U. S. Immigration Steps Up Campaign to Arrest Undocumented Aliens

Attorneys Robert L. Reeves and Myra V. Azucena

Federal officials are cracking down on immigration. In the last two weeks, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency that now performs the enforcement functions of the old Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), raided businesses, apartments, and homes. Raids up and down California resulted in the apprehension and deportation of hundreds of undocumented immigrants.

The massive sweep is part of a campaign spearheaded by ICE entitled “Operation Return to Sender.” Since its inception on May 26, 2006, the campaign has resulted in nearly 14,000 arrests. Spokespeople for ICE state that they are only focusing on “the worst of the worst.” Targets include those convicted of a controlled substance offense, firearms offense, offense against a minor, disorderly conduct, and driving under the influence with prior convictions. Others include those who have prior orders of deportation and have ignored the judge’s order.

Operation Return to Sender is part of a tougher enforcement strategy designed to catch and deport criminal aliens, increase worksite enforcement, and crack down on illegal immigration. However, although the stated intent is to focus on the worst, ICE does not turn a blind’s eye to those who do not have lawful status, and have never been convicted of a criminal offense. Every undocumented person ICE encounters along the way is at risk. The result is the arrest, detention, and deportation of hundreds of undocumented immigrants, many of whom are hard working non-citizens whose only offense is not having their green card.

In 2007, immigration advocates hope for comprehensive immigration reform which would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain lawful status in the United States. The increased risk of living in the United States without lawful status makes it all the more important to seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney.