KANSAS CITY, Mo. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Tuesday that its local team of officers that track down criminal and fugitive aliens arrested 34 aliens as part of a four-day, six state operation that ended Monday.
"Fugitive aliens" are illegal aliens who fail to leave the country after having been ordered to do so by a federal immigration judge.
Eleven fugitive operations teams made 225 arrests in: Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin. Of the 34 aliens arrested by ICE's Kansas City Fugitive Operations Team, 10 were fugitives, and two were aliens with criminal convictions. The arrests took place in the following Missouri cities: Springfield, Neosho, Carthage, Joplin, Webb City, Monnet, Branson and Willow Springs. Those arrested are from the following countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and The Philippines.
"Our teams working together across six states today sent a strong message to those who choose to disregard our nation's laws," said Julie L. Myers, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE. "If you ignore a judge's order of removal, ICE will find you, arrest you, and you will be returned to your home country."
ICE has established 75 Fugitive Operations Teams nationwide that are specially trained and dedicated solely to identifying, locating and arresting aliens who have absconded after receiving deportation orders. The increased fiscal year 2008 budget allocates funds for ICE to implement an additional 29 teams nationally.
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 (FOSC) 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 predators, suspected gang members and those who have convictions for any violent crimes.
Nationwide, ICE Fugitive Operations Teams have arrested more than 72,000 illegal aliens since the first teams were created. There are approximately 585,000 fugitive aliens in ICE's databases; but our 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.
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.