Feds sweep valley for immigrants

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SANTA CLARITA — Federal immigration and customs agents fanned out Friday in Santa Clarita searching for fugitives who’ve ignored deportation orders — some possibly criminals — to ensure they leave the country. The operation is part of a Homeland Security initiative designed to step up border enforcement. “People who are arrested for being in the U.S. illegally have a right to due process and the opportunity to go into immigration court and fight deportation,” said Lori Haley, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “If they lose, they should accept the courts’ ruling and comply with the removal order.” The targeted individuals were ordered deported by immigration judges. Haley declined to reveal the names of fugitives or whether they committed crimes other than disregarding court orders. She would not describe the size of the force or where in the community agents are deployed. A group of ICE agents was spotted Friday morning on San Fernando Road in Newhall, a largely Latino neighborhood. The agency serves as a key investigative tool for the Department of Homeland Security. Since forming “Operation Return to Sender” in May 2006 agents have apprehended more than 18,000 fugitives nationwide, Haley said. Fifty-two fugitive operation teams are at work nationwide, including four in the Los Angeles area, which includes Santa Clarita. From late May 2006 through April 20, 2007, the Los Angeles team has arrested roughly 1,500 individuals. Of those, 862 were immigrant fugitives. Nearly 200 had criminal convictions. Fugitives snared in the raid will be taken to the regional immigration office for processing before they’re deported. While pursuing their targets, agents sometimes discover others who are in the country illegally. Some are eligible for voluntary departure, with the violation not be shown on their record. The operation will continue through the weekend. — Judy O’Rourke, (661) [email protected]last_img

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