Nationwide Sweep Nets Nearly 2,100 Illegal Immigrants
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BOSTON – In a blitz called Operation Return to Sender that began May 26, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested nearly 2,100 illegal immigrants across the country. Officials said the raids are aimed at child molesters, gang members and other violent criminals, as well as people like Da Silva who sneaked back into the country after a judge threw them out.
The operation has caught more than 140 immigrants with convictions for sexual offenses against children; 367 known gang members, including street soldiers in the deadly Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, and about 640 people who had already been deported once, immigration officials said. The numbers include more than 720 arrests in California alone. More than 800 people arrested already have been deported.
ICE has a network of 35 fugitive teams across the country. The 2006 budget increased that number to 52, and the Bush administration is pushing for 70 by 2007.
There are more than 500,000 “fugitive aliens” who have been deported by judges and either slipped back into the country or never left. There is often a disconnect between local and state prisons and the federal government that allows illegal immigrants to serve time and be released without being transferred to federal officials for deportation.