ICE: Of 2,059 Criminal Aliens Arrested in March Sweep, 23% Had Re-Entered the U.S.

By Brittany M. Hughes | March 10, 2015 | 9:33 AM EDT

ICE, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has various programs targeting the removal of criminal aliens, including those who are in jail. (Photo: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

( - U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 2,059 criminal illegal aliens from 94 different countries during a five-day operation conducted March 1-5.

That total includes 476 illegal aliens (23%) who had re-entered the United States after previously being deported, federal officials said Monday at a joint press conference by ICE and the Department of Homeland Security.

Of the 2,059 criminals arrested, 1,013 -- almost half -- had been convicted of more than one crime; and 1,036 had been convicted of a felony, including voluntary manslaughter, child pornography, robbery and kidnapping.

Of the total 2,059 criminals arrested, 58 are known gang members or affiliates, and 89 are convicted sex offenders.

An additional 912 illegal aliens were arrested for multiple "significant misdemeanors," mostly repeated convictions for driving under the influence.

According to ICE Director Sarah Saldana, one Mexican national already had been deported six times when he was arrested once again in Oxnard, Calif. The man has a history of crimes in the United States spanning the years 1983-2006, including petty theft, carrying a loaded firearm in a public place, driving under the influence, evading a peace officer, possession of a controlled substance and grand theft, she said.

“Following his release from federal prison, a detainer on this individual was not honored, and he was released back into the community,” Saldana said. “ICE previously removed him from the United States in 2003, in 2004, in 2005, in 2006, in 2008 and in 2013.”

Of the 2,059 who were arrested in March, 163 have been presented to U.S. attorneys to be prosecuted, Saldana said. This includes aliens who will be charged with illegal re-entry, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison -- at American taxpayers' expense.

The arrests are part of the Cross Check Operation, conducted annually since 2011 by ICE and DHS.

According to a DHS press release, the five Cross Check operations to date have resulted in the arrest of 12,440 criminal illegal aliens.

The foreign nationals detained in early March who are not being criminally prosecuted will be processed administratively for removal from the United States, ICE said.  But it's not clear how many of them might be released pending deportation.

In 2013, for example, ICE freed 36,007 convicted criminal aliens from detention who were awaiting the outcome of deportation proceedings, according to a document obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies.

Saldana hailed the latest Cross Check Operation as a success, saying that by focusing on the “worst of the worst” criminals, ICE is “marshaling our limited resources in a most responsible manner.”

“We are a nation with a proud history of immigration, but if you come here unlawfully and you turn to crime, a different reception awaits you,” Saldana said.

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