HOUSTON, TX. – Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), today announced that ICE agents and officers have apprehended approximately 2,179 criminal aliens, illegal alien gang members, fugitive aliens, and other immigration status violators as part of a nationwide interior immigration enforcement operation that began last month.
Dubbed “Operation Return to Sender,” the initiative began on May 26, 2006 and concluded yesterday. Virtually every field office in the nation from ICE’s Office of Investigations and ICE’s Office of Detention and Removal Operations carried out the enforcement operation in conjunction with numerous state and local law enforcement agencies.
Among the roughly 2,179 individuals arrested in the operation, roughly half had criminal records for crimes that ranged from sexual assault of a minor to assault with a deadly weapon, to abduction. For example, approximately 146 of those arrested had convictions for sexual offenses involving minors. In addition, roughly 367 of the arrested aliens were members or associates of violent street gangs, including Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). Finally, roughly 640 of those arrested were fugitive aliens who had been issued final orders of removal by an Immigration judge but failed to comply.
ICE officers arrested the majority of these individuals on administrative immigration violations and have placed them into deportation proceedings. Roughly 829 of those apprehended on administrative violations have already been repatriated to their home countries. ICE agents also apprehended 121 individuals on criminal charges that range from felony re-entry after deportation, to illegal alien in possession of a firearm. The latter individuals are being processed in federal criminal courts.