The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced September 26th that it has created a Fugitive Operations team based in Memphis to "locate, arrest, and remove aliens who have committed crimes or who failed to comply with court orders to leave the United States."
ICE Fugitive Operations teams have federal authorities and nationwide jurisdiction. Though based in specific area offices, the teams can be deployed to conduct operations anywhere fugitive aliens are located in the United States. The teams use intelligence-based information and leads to find and arrest aliens who have ignored a judge's order or otherwise broken the law.
"The United States is a land of opportunity, but it is also a nation of laws," said Trey Lund, Field Office Director in New Orleans, who oversees the Memphis Fugitive Operations team. "The addition of these new fugitive teams increases ICE's ability to aggressively pursue those who have no respect for our laws. Our teams nationally have stopped the growth of the fugitive population and effected the first decrease in the number of fugitives since ICE was created in 2003."
The teams prioritize their efforts to arrest fugitive and other illegal aliens according to public safety criteria and other factors. Of the more than 61,533 illegal aliens apprehended by ICE Fugitive Operations teams since the first teams were created in 2003, roughly 17,331 had convictions for crimes that have included homicide, sexual exploitation of children, robbery, violent assault, narcotics trafficking and other aggravated felonies.
By the end of this month, a total of 75 Fugitive Operations teams are scheduled to be operational nationwide. The Administration's FY2008 proposed budget would allow ICE to deploy an additional six teams. The Fugitive Operations teams already in operation are collectively apprehending more than 1,000 illegal aliens a week. ICE Fugitive Operations teams are assigned to local offices of ICE Detention and Removal Operations, which often have responsibility for more than one state. Some regional and local offices have more than one team.
Estimates now place the number of immigration fugitives in the United States at slightly under 600,000.