Thursday, April 23, 2009

CCSO Detains More Than 1,500 Criminal Aliens

More than 1,500 criminal aliens have been detained and are set to appear before an immigration judge for removal proceedings since the Collier County Sheriff’s Office began partnering with the federal government to deal with the problem of illegal immigrants committing crimes in our community.

CCSO’s Criminal Alien Task Force (CATF) has completed hundreds of investigations that were approved for arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

As of April 1, the most recent figures available, a total of 1,547 immigration detainers have been placed on illegal immigrants at the Collier County jail since CCSO began its partnership with ICE in September 2007.

The CATF’s efforts have resulted in the removal of 20 to 30 criminal aliens from the jail each week, contributing to a significant decline in the inmate population in Collier County. This decline in population helped make possible the recent reassignment of resources and inmates from the Immokalee Jail Center to the Naples Jail Center.

A select group of 29 CCSO deputies have been trained by ICE to identify criminal aliens and initiate removal proceedings from the United States. The training is allowed under section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act

Deputies out in the field are tasked with identifying, locating and arresting both illegally present foreign nationals and legal immigrants who, due to extensive criminal histories, represent a threat to the safety of the residents of Collier County. These individuals are arrested and processed by CATF members before they are placed into ICE custody and transported to an immigration facility for a deportation hearing.

“These individuals have multiple arrests for misdemeanors and felonies; many are gang members or are currently on probation,’’ said Cmdr. Mike Williams, road patrol CATF coordinator.

Trained CATF corrections deputies are tasked with identifying these same criminal aliens when they arrive in the jail on state charges.

“An individual with an ICE hold has an average of five criminal arrest charges,’’ said Lt. Keith Harmon, corrections CATF coordinator. “By placing these individuals in removal proceedings it prevents them from committing more crimes within Collier County, making it a safer place for law abiding residents.”

Of the 1,547 detainers, 1,413 were the result of corrections deputies’ investigations and 134 were by trained road patrol deputies.

The focus of ICE’s Criminal Alien Program (CAP) is to identify criminal aliens who are incarcerated within federal, state and local facilities to ensure that they are placed into removal proceedings so that they are not released into the community upon the completion of their criminal case.

“The partnership that ICE shares with the Collier County Sherriff’s Office represents a force multiplier to help combat crime in the community," said Michael Rozos, field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal in Florida. "The 287(g) partnership gives local law enforcement agencies authority to identify criminal aliens and assists ICE in ensuring that those individuals who are a threat to public safety are not released into our communities."

Criminal aliens are non-citizens who have committed felonies or other crimes that make them ineligible to remain in the United States in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Additionally, criminal aliens who are potentially removable include lawful permanent residents (such as holders of a U.S. Permanent Resident Card) who are convicted of a removable offense as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). For more information on ICE’s 287g and Criminal Alien programs, go to