During the just-concluded campaign season, immigration, a hot-button topic in recent years, was seldom mentioned by candidates for any major office. But two days after Americans cast their ballots, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency known as ICE, has stepped forward with a new report that attempts to deflect criticism from those who believe the department isn't doing nearly enough to capture and deport people in this country illegally -- and the document puts Denver in the spotlight. Denver's Office of Detention and Removal Operations says it "returned more than 6,000 illegal aliens to their native countries" in the latest fiscal year, as compared to 5,600 the year before -- a seven-percent increase.
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Click on this link to view the original release, "ICE Enforcement Strategy Leads to Record Results in Denver," which includes graphics that illustrate these numbers and more -- or read the text below. -- Michael Roberts
ICE enforcement strategy leads to record results in Denver Deportations, and criminal and fugitive arrests soared in fiscal year 2008
DENVER — Reflecting the impact of heightened strategic enforcement efforts, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) efforts here reached record levels in fiscal year 2008 for criminal and fugitive alien arrests to federal prosecutions and formal deportations. The significant increase is a direct result of ICE’s increased targeting of criminal and fugitive aliens.
“We made a commitment to the American people to embark on an ambitious enforcement strategy aimed at securing our borders and strengthening our nation’s immigration system,” said Julie L. Myers, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE. “The record results seen across the country reflect significant, steady progress toward this goal. The men and women at ICE, along with our law enforcement partners, deserve our thanks for their hard work and dedication.”
Comprehensive strategy results in record removals
Overall, the number of illegal aliens repatriated by Denver’s Office of Detention and Removal Operations increased seven percent in the latest fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. In the past 12 months, this office returned more than 6,000 illegal aliens to their native countries, compared to 5,600 the previous year. Almost 60 percent of the illegal aliens returned by the Denver ICE office, or 3,600, were aliens who had prior criminal convictions in addition to being in the country illegally. Nationally, ICE returned more than 349,000 illegal aliens, representing a 20 percent increase over the prior year.
Targeting criminal and fugitive aliens
In fiscal year 2008, the number of charging documents issued by the Denver ICE office against criminal aliens while they were incarcerated increased 32 percent to more than 6,000, up from more than 4,500 the year before. Ensuring criminal aliens incarcerated in the nation’s jails and prisons are targeted for removal rather than being released onto the streets is one of ICE’s top priorities through its Criminal Alien Program. Nationally, ICE charged more than 221,000 incarcerated criminals, 330 percent more than the total from just two years ago.
Another ICE enforcement priority is reducing the number of immigration fugitive cases, which are primarily aliens who have defied court-issued deportation orders to leave the country. Today ICE has more than 100 Fugitive Operations Teams deployed nationwide, with two teams in place throughout the area encompassed by the Denver ICE office, which includes the states of Colorado and Wyoming. In fiscal year 2008, the Denver Fugitive Operations Teams accounted for more than 570 arrests, which jumped 30 percent from last year’s 438 arrests. Nationally, nearly 34,000 arrests were made under this initiative, more than double the total just two years ago. As a result of these efforts, the nation’s fugitive alien population continues to decline. Estimates now place the number of fugitive alien cases at slightly under 560,000, a decrease of nearly 37,000 in the fiscal year. This is a historic reversal of the continuous growth trend in fugitive cases from previous years.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was established in March 2003 as the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE is comprised of five integrated divisions that form a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities.