- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 6, 2005

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and Virginia law-enforcement officers have arrested nine criminal aliens in the Hampton Roads area, six of whom previously were convicted on aggravated felony charges, including child molestation, drug possession and sexual assault.

Mike Netherland, who heads the ICE office in Norfolk, said agents identified the nine during an investigation that found that they had attempted to obtain immigration benefits through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) — including work permits and permanent-resident status.

“Restoring the integrity of our immigration system is a priority for ICE,” Mr. Netherland said. “A key step in the restoration process is to aggressively locate, arrest and remove criminal and noncriminal illegal aliens from the United States.

“By attempting to obtain legal immigration benefits, these criminals were also degrading the very system that thousands of law-abiding individuals use to start a new life in the United States,” he said.

Those arrested during sweeps that began Thursday were Tham Tan Vo, a Vietnamese national convicted of having carnal knowledge of a child between 13 and 15; Selahaddin Kaplan, a Turkish national convicted of assault and battery; and Victor Rojas-Duran, a citizen of the Dominican Republic convicted of possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Also arrested were Mohammed Zakari, a citizen of Morocco convicted of grand larceny; Sevanti Modi, an Indian national convicted of sexual battery; Schiller Menard, a Haitian national convicted of possession and sale of marijuana and the possession of a firearm; and Xue Qi Lin, Sheng Chao Weng and Xia Ming Wen, all citizens of China who were ordered removed from the United States by an immigration judge.

Mr. Netherland said all nine have been placed in removal proceedings and will appear before a federal immigration judge in the near future.

The immigration enforcement agency, which is the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for the apprehension and removal of an estimated 80,000 criminal aliens loose on the streets of America, and more than 400,000 “absconders,” those who have been ordered deported but disappeared in the United States.

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