More than 100 illegal immigrants wanted for crimes, including child sexual assault and murder, were arrested nationwide in a major enforcement action, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Thursday.
ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) arrested 171 unlawfully present non-citizens in 25 U.S. cities in an operation carried out over a little more than a week, officials said.
“Over the course of 11 days, our dedicated and committed law enforcement officers zeroed-in on removable, at-large non-citizens who are wanted for or who have already been convicted of horrible, almost unspeakable crimes like assault against children, including sexual assault and murder,” acting ICE Director Patrick Lechleitner said at a news conference.
The nationwide enforcement effort took place between Jan. 16-28, 2024, Lechleitner said.
“The results of this week-long effort are a testament to ERO’s commitment to protecting the homeland through the arrest and removal of those who undermine the safety of U.S. communities and the integrity of U.S. immigration laws,” the acting director said. “Enforcement and Removal Operations personnel are committed to enforcing the nation’s immigration laws humanely, effectively, and with the highest standards of professionalism.”
Those arrested include individuals wanted for or convicted of child molestation, child pornography, rape and murder.
A 53-year-old citizen of El Salvador was arrested in Tacoma, Washington, for instance, after convictions for felony child molestation in the first degree, child molestation in the second degree, and rape of a child in the third degree.
Another 27-year-old citizen of El Salvador was taken into ICE custody in Los Angeles, having been convicted of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years old and possession of obscene matter of a minor in a sexual act.
At least two individuals had been previously deported before their arrest: A 45-year-old citizen of Mexico in Dallas convicted of sexual assault of a child, and a 32-year-old citizen of Mexico in Denver convicted of first-degree murder.
In fiscal year 2023, ERO arrested 73,822 non-citizens with criminal histories, according to ICE data. Those arrested had 290,178 associated charges and convictions, averaging four per individual, officials said.
The charges included 33,209 assaults; 4,390 sex and sexual assaults; 7,520 weapons offenses; 1,713 charges or convictions for homicide; and 1,655 kidnapping offenses, according to ICE.
Record numbers of non-citizens are illegally present in the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported more than 3.2 million nationwide encounters for fiscal year 2023, an increase of 15% compared to the previous fiscal year.