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Enforcement and Removal

ICE removes Jordanian criminal alien convicted on weapons, sex assault charges

NEW ORLEANS – A Jordanian citizen with more than a dozen criminal convictions in Illinois ranging from felony sexual assault to unlawfully carrying a weapon was removed from the United States to Jordan Tuesday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Nassar Issa Ibrahim Nassar, 49, was initially encountered by ICE on Oct. 17, 2011, when he was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport while attempting to re-enter the country. A check of his fingerprints by U.S. Customs and Border Protection revealed an outstanding criminal warrant for assault and battery in Cook County, Ill. Despite the issuance of an ICE detainer, Cook County released Nassar from custody the following day.

"The daily release of criminal aliens into the streets, rather than into ICE custody, demonstrates how dangerous the current Cook County ordinance is to public safety," said ERO Chicago Field Office Director Ricardo Wong. "Due to the current ordinance barring local law enforcement from honoring ICE's detainers, egregious criminals are released to continue their criminal activities and endanger innocent people. ICE will continue to raise these public safety concerns with Cook County."

ICE's Criminal Alien Program ultimately located and arrested Nassar more than 6 months later on May 9, 2012, at a Cook County residence. A federal immigration judge ordered Nassar removed from the country August 22, 2012, based upon his status as an alien convicted of two or more crimes of moral turpitude and as an alien convicted of a firearms offense.

Nassar was removed on a charter flight from Alexandria, La. to New York via ICE Air Operations (IAO). From there, officers escorted Nassar to Jordan via commercial aircraft. Since 2006, the IAO, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., has supported ERO by providing mass air transportation and removal coordination services to ERO field offices nationwide. Staffed by ERO officers, these air charters enable the agency to repatriate large groups of deportees in an efficient, expeditious and humane manner.

ERO's Criminal Alien Program (CAP) identifies potentially deportable aliens incarcerated in jails and prisons throughout the United States. CAP officers interview and review inmates' biographical information. Although ERO initiates removal proceedings against criminal aliens through CAP, these individuals remain in prison or jail to complete their criminal hearings or sentences. Under CAP, ERO uses a risk-based approach to make determinations about the detention and arrest of criminal aliens, with priority given to cases involving individuals deemed to be a security or public safety threat.

In FY 2012 ERO removed 409,849 individuals. Of those, approximately 55 percent, or 225,390 of the people removed, were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors – almost double the removal of criminals in FY 2008.

This includes 1,215 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,557 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 40,448 aliens convicted for crimes involving drugs; and 36,166 aliens convicted for driving under the influence. Approximately 96 percent of ICE's removals in FY 2012 fell into one of the agency's priority categories – a record high.