Nearly half of 130 foreign nationals with criminal records targeted by a three-day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement surge in Northern Virginia were arrested in Fairfax County this week.
During the regional operation, which concluded Tuesday, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations officers located and arrested 130 "criminal aliens" with prior convictions for a variety of crimes, including rape, assault, burglary and narcotics possession, said ICE director John Morton at a Wednesday press conference in Manassas.
The operation netted 163 total arrests: 130 illegal immigrants with criminal records, eight fugitives, three illegal immigrants who had previously been deported and returned to the U.S. illegally, and 22 non- criminals who were issued a notice to appear in immigration court due to their immigration status, Morton said.
Overall the arrestees represent more than 32 different nations, including countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa, Morton said. Of the 163 arrested, 134 were men and 29 were women.
Sixty-two of the 130 illegal immigrants said to have criminal records were arrested in Fairfax County, although only two were identified by individual municipality. Those two were identified as residing in Herndon, where local police officers have the power to enforce federal immigration law through an agreement with ICE called 287(g).
"Our 287(g) officers partnered with ICE to arrest those offenders residing in Herndon," said Herndon Police Chief Toussaint Summers at the press conference on Wednesday.
Other agencies participating in "Operation Cross Check Northern Virginia" include the Fairfax County Police Department, Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, Manassas City Police Department, Manassas Park Police Department, Prince William County Police Department, Prince William County Sheriff's Office, Virginia State Police, and the U.S. Marshal's office.
"Our Deputy U.S. Marshals, as well as the state and local partners that comprise our task force, were honored to partner with ICE for these critical operations," said John Hackman, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia. "We were successful in apprehending a number of individuals that were not only in this country illegally, but also had extensive criminal histories and continued to engage in unlawful conduct."
Many of those arrested in the regional sting have records of committing sexual crimes, including a 39-year-old British national and legal permanent resident. Morton said that particular individual's criminal history includes a conviction for aggravated sexual battery of a child.
Because of their serious criminal histories and prior immigration arrest records, five of those arrested during the sting will face further federal prosecution for reentering the country illegally after a formal deportation, Morton added.
"We are a nation with a proud history of immigration. If you come here lawfully, work hard, and play by the rules, the United States welcomes you with open arms," Morton said. "For those who come here unlawfully and commit crimes at the expense of their neighbors and their communities, we will not rest until we find you and send you home."
Morton said that nationally, for two years in a row, ICE has removed record numbers of criminal immigrants nationwide. In fiscal 2010, half of those removed--more than 195,000--were convicted criminals.
"In the last two fiscal years, ICE has removed more criminal aliens than any other time in its history," he said.