ICE targets criminal immigrants
Some of the 34 local residents detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this week had been convicted of sex, drug and weapons crimes, the agency said Wednesday.Twenty-two of the illegal immigrants arrested in the Roaring Fork Valley are from Mexico, nine are from El Salvador and three are from Honduras, ICE said in a news release.Twelve already have been returned to Mexico.ICE conducted the local crackdown Monday and Tuesday, as part of a longer, ongoing, nationwide initiative called “Operation Return to Sender.”Seven of those detained have criminal records. ICE offered details on three of them, all from Mexico, Wednesday:• Jose Tarin-Rivas was convicted of distributing controlled substances and sentenced to six years in prison.• David Ramirez-Centeno was convicted of felony larceny, possessing a weapon on school grounds, and fraud/impersonation.• Luis Linares/Soto was convicted of sexual contact and indecent exposure to minors and adults.ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said he didn’t have additional information on those three men, or the other criminals detained this week.He said sometimes immigrants who have permission to live in the United States lose their legal status when they are convicted of crimes, but are released and ICE isn’t notified.Some who committed crimes decades ago fall retroactively under a 1996 law that makes people eligible for deportation for certain crimes.Two of this week’s detainees previously had been deported and may be subject to federal prosecution. Anyone who re-enters the United States after having been deported is committing a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.Thirteen of the others picked up this week also had deportation orders.”The people targeted in this operation had their day in court and were ordered deported by an immigration judge,” said Douglas Maurer, ICE’s field office director in Denver. “ICE regularly conducts these operations, which should send a strong message to absconders and other illegal aliens that ICE will find you and send you home.”Rusnok said ICE has had a fugitive operations program in place for at least three years. Some 40 teams across the country focus on going after “absconders,” people who have received deportation orders.He said there are about 600,000 absconders in the United States.Some were given a notice to appear before an immigration judge and ignored it, and the judge ordered their removal from the United States but they weren’t present to be deported.Rusnok said these people may have been given notices to appear in court under ICE’s “catch and release” policy that once was applied on the Southwest border. However, Homeland Security SecretaryMichael Chertoff ended that policy a few weeks ago and ordered that anyone caught crossing the border be arrested and prosecuted for deportation, Rusnok said.Fourteen people detained in this week’s operation hadn’t been targeted, but ICE came across them while apprehending the others and determined they were staying in the United States without legal authorization. Rusnok said going after criminal immigrants is ICE’s top priority, but anyone in the United States illegally runs the risk of being arrested and deported.He said it’s wrong to characterize this week’s operation as a sweep.”Some people hear that, they think we just go into a neighborhood and start knocking on doors and asking them if in they’re in the country illegally,” he said.Instead, this week’s effort was based on leads, and information on where fugitive immigrants live and work, he said.Personnel from ICE offices in Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Craig and Denver carried out the operation with help from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.The operation was a continuation of a national one begun in June, during which 2,179 immigrants were arrested.It is part of an interior immigration enforcement strategy that was announced in April, and is an element of the Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Border Initiative. The strategy expands efforts to target immigration violators, employers of illegal immigrants, and criminal networks supporting these activities.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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