- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Tuesday said more than 2,400 convicted criminal aliens and immigration fugitives were arrested in May in a seven-day targeted “Cross Check” enforcement operation as part of what ICE called the Obama administration’s “ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens that threaten public and national security.”

“The results of this operation underscore ICE’s ongoing focus on arresting those convicted criminal aliens who prey upon our communities, and tracking down fugitives who game our nation’s immigration system,” ICE Director John Morton said. “This targeted enforcement operation is a direct result of excellent teamwork among law enforcement agencies who share a commitment to protect public safety.”

In May, Mr. Morton said ICE officers from all 24 of the agency’s offices of enforcement and removal operations located and arrested illegal immigrants with criminal convictions in all 50 states. All the criminal aliens taken into custody had convictions for crimes such as armed robbery, drug trafficking, child abuse, sexual crimes against minors, aggravated assault, theft, forgery and drunken driving, he said.

In total, 22 percent of those taken into custody were immigration fugitives — convicted criminal aliens with outstanding orders of deportation who did not leave the country.

The seven-day operation, the largest of its kind, involved the collaboration of more than 500 ICE agents and officers, as well as coordination with the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the United States.

But according to immigration lawyer Michael Wildes, a former special assistant U.S. attorney in New York, the arrests came within weeks of ICE’s promise to reform its Secure Communities program after complaints from human rights and immigrant groups.

On Tuesday, he said the problem with Secure Communities is that “the government’s goal of excising dangerous criminals from American society has been approached in a shockingly reckless and inhumane manner.”

Governors from Illinois, New York and Massachusetts have pulled their states out of participating in Secure Communities. Other states, including California, have pending legislation to also opt out - balking at the administration’s key program designed to target illegal-immigrant gang members and violent felons for deportation.

The complaints have surfaced as more states begin to challenge the administration’s immigration efforts. From the right, Arizona has led a battle to empower local police to check immigration status. The rebellion also has highlighted concerns from the left that Mr. Obama is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants, many of whom do not have the extensive criminal records on which the president has said he wants to focus.

To date, ICE has removed a record number of more than 109,700 criminal aliens from the United States in fiscal 2011, including more than 585 criminal aliens convicted of homicide and more than 3,177 criminal aliens convicted sex offenders.

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