- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The newly formed Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in an effort to apprehend and remove dangerous criminal aliens from the United States, yesterday released a “Most Wanted” list of foreign nationals who pose a threat to public safety.

“To those criminal aliens who have eluded apprehension in the past, be forewarned: ICE agents will seek you out, apprehend you and remove you from the United States,” said ICE acting Assistant Secretary Michael J. Garcia. “As a new agency under the Department of Homeland Security, ICE is committed to ensuring the safety of the American public.”

On the list are foreign nationals convicted of committing serious crimes in this country. Each was ordered deported — under the defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service — but they remain at large.

Four of them are convicted child molesters, three are convicted rapists, two have been convicted of manslaughter and one was named on drug charges.

Mr. Garcia said half a dozen criminal aliens originally scheduled for the list already have been arrested, including Baldermar Torres-Juarez, convicted in 1993 of aggravated assault, in Salt Lake City, and convicted child rapist David Cesar Arce-Ascencio in Chicago. Both since have been deported.

The creation of a Most Wanted list is part of what Mr. Garcia called an aggressive strategy at ICE known as the National Fugitive Operations Initiative. Its goal is to reduce the number of alien “absconders.” Absconders are foreign nationals who have failed to comply with an immigration judge’s deportation order.

ICE received an additional $10 million from Congress to support the Fugitive Operations Initiative.

Last year, INS removed more than 70,000 criminal aliens from the United States. In the first six months of this fiscal year, more than 36,000 criminal aliens have been returned to their home countries.

Rep. John Hostettler, Indiana Republican and chairman of the Immigration, Border Security and Claims subcommittee, said he applauded the efforts of ICE to institute the list.

“In December 2001, James Ziglar, then-INS commissioner, announced there were more than 314,000 aliens at large in the United States who were under final orders of removal,” Mr. Hostettler said.

“These are aliens charged with removable offenses who were given their day in court. … For whatever reason, however, they remained in the United States in defiance of our laws,” he said.

Mr. Hostettler said if the federal government fails to enforce the law against those aliens ordered removed — especially those who have committed crimes — it would encourage more aliens to risk their lives to enter or remain illegally.

“Identifying and targeting for removal those alien absconders who have preyed on the public in the past … is an appropriate use of the bureau’s limited money and manpower,” he said. “The safety and well-being of the American people is the foremost responsibility of the United States government.”

He said, however, the initiative is only a first step in a larger and more comprehensive scheme of immigration enforcement in which “all aliens who have broken the law know that the United States means what it says.”

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