Immigration Authorities Sweep Nation for Aliens With Convictions, Arresting More Than 3,100

April 2, 2012 by David S. Seltzer

As a south Florida immigration criminal defense attorney, I know a lot of my clients keep a close eye on enforcement actions by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE, once called the INS). ICE announced in the last few years that it planned to focus its enforcement efforts on “high-priority” aliens who have been convicted of crimes, putting undocumented immigrants without a criminal history the lowest priority for agency resources. Since then, ICE has conducted at least three raids, including a new one announced Monday. According to its press release, ICE’s six-day “Cross Check” operation found immigrants in every state who had been convicted of crimes, were fugitives from justice or had immigration violations. At least 204 of those arrested were offered for prosecution on new charges.

According to ICE’s press release, the agency found a total of 3,168 undocumented immigrants with criminal records, immigration violations or who are immigration fugitives. These included 2,834 with criminal records, slightly more than half of which were felony criminal records. Of those with criminal records, 1,063 had multiple past criminal convictions; 50 were gang members; and 149 were convicted sex offenders. A separate 698 of those arrested were immigration fugitives, meaning they were ordered to leave the country but did not, and 559 had reentered the country after being removed. According to an Associated Press article, San Diego immigration authorities simply tracked targets to their last known addresses, arriving early in the day, before work. In total, the San Diego office targeted 14 immigrants, found six and arrested six others who had not been targeted.

That last fact is a bit disturbing to me as a Miami-Dade criminal defense lawyer. These non-targeted arrestees may be responsible for serious crimes, or they may just happen to be undocumented immigrants living at or near addresses where ICE agents went during the sweep. Though the ICE press release profiles three arrestees who were convicted of or wanted for murder, it also notes that fewer than half of those arrested had felony convictions. Many others may be convicted only of immigration-related crimes, such as possessing forged papers, or minor crimes such as resisting an officer. While these are not good things to have on your record, I suspect most people don’t realize this kind of misdemeanor accounts for such a large part of the reportedly “high-priority” arrests being made.

If you’re an immigrant — here legally or not — and you’re facing legal problems, don’t hesitate to call Seltzer Law, P.A. There are no minor crimes for immigrants, unfortunately; even legal permanent residents can be deported for crimes that might not significantly disrupt the life of a citizen. For those who arrived here without permission, any encounter with the police can be anxious. Our law firm represents clients who are in trouble with immigration authorities because of immigration crimes such as illegal reentry, or other crimes that affect their immigration status. We also represent clients who need the help of an experienced attorney as they navigate the complicated U.S. immigration system to get a green card, work visa or other legal status. Our Fort Lauderdale immigration attorneys represent people in ordinary Florida and federal courts as well as immigration hearings.

Led by experienced criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor David Seltzer, Seltzer Law, P.A., represents clients across Florida who need help with a criminal matter or an immigration matter. To learn more or set up a free consultation, contact us through our website or call 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) today.

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