Federal agents with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) recently reported that from November 2007 through June 2008 it conducted a crackdown on illegal immigrants with criminal records that resulted in more than 3,800 prosecutions for felony reentry. The crackdown initially focused on San Diego, El Paso, Houston and Phoenix, however, in June, the program was expanded to all of ICE’s Detention and Removal offices nationwide and resulted in 349,000 illegal immigrants deported during that time â€“ a 20 percent increase over the previous 12 months.
In Minnesota ICE criminal investigations section also targeted the worst offenders such as gang members and drug dealers. Illegal immigrants who have been deported and who have reentered the U.S. illegally face felony reentry prosecution and a prison sentence of up to 20 years. However, people who illegally return to the United States and who do not have other criminal convictions are more likely to be deported but not imprisoned.
The issue of people illegally in the country committing serious crime has gained greater attention locally. In August, ICE nabbed dozens of foreign-born gang members in the Twin Cities two-week crackdown. This resulted in a Richfield gang member being charged with murder in connection to a Minneapolis drive-by shooting. There seems to be more of a prioritization when it comes to targeting illegal immigrants with criminal records. ICE is combing through county jails for such criminals.
In Colorado and Wyoming Federal agents reported more than 6,000 illegal immigrants were deported a 7 percent increase from the previous year. With longer prison sentencing for re-entry cases, ICE is hoping that this will eventually keep out criminal illegal immigrants.