Washington, DC – The Department of Homeland Security arrested thousands from 94 countries including India, Pakistan and Afghanistan in a sweeping operation spanning five days, according to Obama Administration officials.
Addressing journalists in the Julie Myers Conference Room at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas along with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sarah Saldaña announced the results of a major nationwide operation targeting at-large criminal aliens and public safety threats led by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
“This nationwide operation led to the apprehension of more than 2,000 convicted criminal aliens who pose the greatest risk to our public safety,” said Deputy Secretary Mayorkas. “Today, communities around the country are safer because of the great work of the men and women of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” added Mayorkas.
The operation, dubbed “Cross Check,” began Sunday, March 1, and ended Thursday, March 5. Hundreds of ERO officers participated in the operation that focused on the arrests of public safety threats. Those arrested are from 94 countries and have a wide array of criminal convictions.
Seven of those arrested are from India, five from Pakistan and two from Afghanistan.
In a telephonic message to Indian American Times, Danielle Bennett, Public Affairs Officer, ICE noted that the department works closely with embassies of countries whose citizens are apprehended and requests them to issue a “travel document” for the individual to be deported to his/her home country.
“By taking these individuals off our streets and removing them from the country, we are making our communities safer for everyone,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “This national operation exemplifies ICE’s ongoing commitment to prioritizing convicted criminals and public safety threats for apprehension and removal,” added Saldaña.
All targets of this operation fell within the top two priorities established in Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson’s Nov. 20 memorandum entitled “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants.” Priority 1 targets include threats to national security, criminal street gang members, convicted felons, and aggravated felons. Priority 2 targets have convictions for three or more misdemeanors or convictions for significant misdemeanors, including DUIs.
The foreign nationals detained during the operation who are not being criminally prosecuted will be processed administratively for removal from the United States. Those who have outstanding orders of deportation, or who returned to the United States illegally after being deported, are subject to immediate removal from the country. The remaining individuals are in ICE custody awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge, or pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future.
The 2,059 individuals with prior criminal convictions who were arrested include more than 1,000 individuals who have multiple criminal convictions. This includes felony convictions, such as voluntary manslaughter, child pornography, robbery, kidnapping and rape.
Of the total criminals arrested, 58 are known gang members or affiliates, and 89 are convicted sex offenders.
The vast majority of misdemeanor convictions were for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). ICE considers DUI offenders, particularly repeat offenders, to be a significant public safety threat.
Of those arrested during this operation, 476 were illegal re-entrants who had been previously removed from the country. Because of their serious criminal histories and prior immigration arrest records, 163 of those arrested during the enforcement action were presented to US Attorneys for prosecution on a variety of charges, including illegal re-entry after deportation, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
This operation is the sixth nationwide Cross Check operation in the agency’s history.