Federal agents sweep Tahoe for illegal immigrants | SierraSun.com

Federal agents sweep Tahoe for illegal immigrants

Karen McIntyre
Sierra Sun

Forty-two residents living illegally in the greater Tahoe area were taken from their homes and businesses June 30 and July 1 in a raid by federal agents.

Of the 42 arrested, 21 were immigration fugitives, which means they were ordered to deport by an immigration judge and refused to comply, said Virginia Kice, western regional communications director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Six of the detainees had previous criminal convictions.

The sweep was part of the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Fugitive Operations Program.

The men and women arrested came from Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras, Kice said. They were detained throughout the Tahoe area, including Kings Beach, South Lake Tahoe and Truckee, as well as Carson City and Reno.

Citing privacy issues, Kice said she would not release any names because the people were arrested on administrative warrants for immigration violations, which are not criminal arrests.

The fugitives were taken to local offices to be processed, and six people were released pending supervision. The remaining 36 were taken into custody and transported to detention facilities.

Those who had not gone before an immigration judge with the Department of Justice had that opportunity, but those who had previously been ordered to deport will be removed from the country “as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Kice said.

In some cases it takes some time to receive the “final order of removal” to send a fugitive back to his or her home country. But Kice said people with the correct travel documents can be deported within hours.

“The majority of those encountered during the (Tahoe) operation have already been repatriated to their native countries,” Kice said.

ICE has 75 Fugitive Operations Teams in the U.S., and Congress has authorized an additional 29 teams to be added this fiscal year. Of the five Northern California teams, there are none in Lake Tahoe, and the recent arrests were made by teams from Sacramento and other locations, Kice said.

ICE learns about the fugitives’ whereabouts by receiving leads from law enforcement, immigration courts and other agencies, Kice said.

The Fugitive Operations Program began in 2003, and enforcement action resulted in more than 2,200 arrests in Northern California last fiscal year.

Because of the program, Kice said, the nation’s fugitive alien population declined for the first time in history last year.