SAN ANTONIO - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 84 fugitive aliens and immigration violators as part of a four-day operation that started Sunday in Austin, San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley.
"Fugitive aliens" are illegal immigrants who fail to appear for their immigration hearings, or who abscond after having been ordered deported by a federal immigration judge. ICE's Fugitive Operations Teams are specially trained and exclusively dedicated to identifying, locating and arresting fugitive aliens.
Five fugitive operations teams worked on this Texas operation. Those arrested are from the following countries: El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Kenya, Guatemala and Honduras. The five participating fugitive operations teams are based in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
Fifty-six of those arrested during this targeted operation had final orders of deportation; and 28 were immigration violators that the teams encountered during the course of the operation. "Anyone who is illegally in the United States runs the risk of being identified, located, arrested and ultimately deported," continued Moore.
ICE has established 75 Fugitive Operations Teams nationwide. The increased fiscal year 2008 budget allocates funds for implementing an additional 29 teams nationally.
Those arrested by the ICE fugitive operations teams during this Texas operation include:
- Maximo Flores-Avila, 57, a citizen of Mexico, was arrested on Monday in Austin where he was living and working. Flores-Avila has an extensive criminal history that includes assault with bodily injury, unlawfully carrying a weapon, and forgery. He was ordered deported in 2006 after the Board of Immigration Appeals reaffirmed the federal immigration judge's order handed down to him in 2005.
- Juan Alonso-Salas, 20, a citizen of Mexico, was arrested on Monday at his home in Harlingen without incident. His criminal history includes possession of marijuana and aggravated assault. He was placed into removal proceedings August 2004 and was ordered deported in January 2005.
- Jose Dominguez-Cordova, 34, a citizen of Mexico, was arrested in San Antonio. Dominuguez-Cordova was issued a final order of removal October 2003 but failed to comply with the judge's order.
The Fugitive Operations Teams' success is also attributed to the fact ICE has expanded partnerships with local law enforcement agencies across the country and the newly created Fugitive Operations Support Center (FOCC) in Vermont, which aids in gathering and analyzing information on fugitive cases across the country. This center was opened last year and has since disseminated more than 150,000 case leads to ICE agents.
ICE established its Fugitive Operations Program in 2003 to eliminate the nation's backlog of immigration fugitives and ensure that deportation orders handed down by immigration judges are enforced. The teams prioritize cases involving immigration violators who pose a threat to national security and community safety. These include child sexual exploiters, suspected gang members and those who have convictions for any violent crimes.
Nationwide, ICE Fugitive Operations Teams have arrested more than 80,000 illegal aliens since the first teams were created. There are about 573,000 fugitive aliens in ICE's databases; but the targeted enforcement strategy is paying off. Last year, the nation's fugitive alien population declined for the first time in history and continues to do so - in large part due to the work of the Fugitive Operations Teams. There are about 59,000 fewer fugitive aliens today than in October 2006.
ICE's Fugitive Operations Program is an integral part of the comprehensive multi-year plan launched by the Department of Homeland Security to secure America's borders and reduce illegal migration. That strategy seeks to gain operational control of both the northern and southern borders, while re-engineering the detention and removal system to ensure that illegal aliens are removed from the country quickly and efficiently.