NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 11, 2006

In an unprecedented crackdown on more than 500,000 illegal immigrants who have not followed deportation orders, U.S. authorities this year are nearly tripling the number of federal officers assigned to round up such fugitives.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement will deploy 52 fugitive-hunting teams across the nation by December, up from 17 teams last year, says John Torres, ICE's acting director of detention and removal.

Teams generally are made up of five to eight agents. They focus on rounding up and deporting immigrants who have been ordered by a judge to leave the country because they are here illegally or have violated the conditions of their stay by committing crimes.

In part because tracking down all of those illegal immigrants is unrealistic, federal immigration agencies have focused on improving border security and on catching the approximately 536,000 illegal immigrants who are fugitives from the law.

According to ICE:

  • The number of fugitives increases by about 35,000 annually.
  • The new teams are expected to arrest 40,000 to 50,000 fugitives annually.
  • That would be a dramatic increase in the rate of such arrests; since March 2003, ICE has arrested 32,625 fugitives.
  • The agency needs another 50 teams.

The new teams are slated for Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio, San Francisco, San Diego, St. Paul and several other cities across the United States. The agency is getting about $75 million over two years to pay for the teams, Raimondi says.

"I think it's equally as important as securing the border," says Victor Cerda, an immigration lawyer in Washington and a former acting director of detection and removal operations at ICE. "The entire immigration system is chaotic at both the border and the interior. Congress is going in the right direction."

Source: Donna Leinwand, "Feds to expand hunt for those ordered to be deported," USA Today, January 11, 2006.


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