SAN ANTONIO — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers arrested 153 criminal aliens and others across South Texas during a 12-day enforcement action that ended on Friday.
According to a press release from ICE, the operation began on March 20 and ended on March 31. Of the 153 arrests made, 62 of them were in San Antonio. The other 91 arrests in Austin/Waco area (24), Laredo (29) and Harlingen (38). The release said 138 of the arrest were men and 15 were women.
All the foreign nationals targeted by ICE officers during the enforcement action had prior criminal convictions. The vast majority of those arrested, 137 of the 153 people had criminal histories ranging from aggravated assault with a weapon to controlled substance distribution.
Those arrested throughout South Texas included foreign nationals from five countries: Mexico (140), Honduras (7), Guatemala (3), Canada (2) and El Salvador (1).
“ICE’s primary immigration enforcement efforts target convicted criminal aliens,” said Daniel Bible, field office director for ERO in San Antonio. “Consequently, our operations improve overall public safety by removing these criminals from our streets, and ultimately from our country.”
Of the 153 arrested, 33 were presented to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to face criminal prosecution on charges of re-entry after deportation. The others arrested during the 12-day operation were being processed administratively for deportation.
The release stated that those who have outstanding orders of removal, or who illegally re-entered the U.S. after being deported, are subject to immediate removal. Those remaining in ICE custody will await a hearing before a federal immigration judge or are pending travel arrangements for removal.
Anyone who illegally re-enters the United States after having been previous deported commits a felony punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, if convicted, stated the press release.
In 2016, ICE conducted 240,255 removals nationwide. Ninety-two percent of individuals removed from the interior of the United States had previously been convicted of a crime.