NEWARK, NJ - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today its four New Jersey Fugitive Operations Teams arrested a total of 145 fugitive aliens during a nearly two-week long operation that began October 14 and concluded yesterday.
In New Jersey, of the 145 fugitives arrested, 65 had criminal records. During the operation, an additional 44 immigration violators were arrested, 22 of whom had criminal histories. The non-fugitive immigration violators arrested during this operation have been charged with immigration violations, placed in removal proceedings and will appear before an independent immigration judge from the Department of Justice.
Criminal histories of the aliens arrested by the Fugitive Operations Teams in New Jersey during this operation included convictions for sexual assault, assault, driving under the influence, and various drug convictions including possession of a controlled dangerous substance, and criminal possession of marijuana.
"The removal of fugitive aliens, especially those with a criminal history and those who pose a threat to national security and community safety, including members of transnational street gangs, child sex offenders, and aliens with prior convictions for violent crimes is a top ICE priority," said Scott Weber, field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) in New Jersey. "ICE's National Fugitive Operations Program is just one facet of the Department of Homeland Security's overarching strategy to secure America's borders and reduce illegal migration."
During the same time period, fugitive teams in New York and Pennsylvania also conducted major operations. In New York, a total of 96 fugitives were arrested, including 52 with criminal histories. New York ICE officers also arrested 44 other immigration violators. In Philadelphia, ICE officers arrested 99 fugitives, including 41with criminal histories. Fifty-eight immigration violators were also arrested.
An immigration fugitive is an alien who has failed to depart the United States pursuant to a final order of removal, deportation or exclusion; or who has failed to report to a DRO Officer after receiving notice to do so. Those fugitives have already been ordered removed and are subject to immediate removal from the United States. Individuals who have illegally re-entered the U.S. after deportation are subject to criminal prosecution and immediate removal from the U.S.
The following are examples of fugitive aliens arrested by the New Jersey Fugitive Operations Teams during the operations:
- An Mexican national arrested in Union City, NJ who had been previously arrested on multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct;
- A Ecuadorian national arrested in North Bergen, NJ, who had been previously arrested for criminal possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled dangerous substance;
- An Argentinean national arrested in Perth Amboy, NJ who had been previously charged with sexual assault; and
- A Guatemalan national arrested in Trenton, NJ who is a member of the Vatos Locos criminal street gang.
The National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP) was established in 2003 to eliminate the nation's backlog of immigration fugitives. Today, ICE has 100 teams deployed across the country. In fiscal year 2008, ICE's National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP) has made more than 33,997 arrests nationwide, which included more than 25,000 fugitives. Additionally, in 2007 and for the first time in history, the nation's fugitive alien population declined and continues to do so, in large part because of the work of the NFOP. Estimates now place the number of immigration fugitives in the United States at about 570,000, a decrease of nearly 25,000 since October 2007.