Operation “Return to Sender” sweeps Midwest; border deaths hit high

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continued the second phase of its “Return to Sender” interior enforcement operation July 12-20 with raids through the state of Oklahoma and the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Illinois; Louisville, Kentucky; and Kansas City, Missouri. The same operation brought the arrest of 154 immigrants in a July 10-14 sweep through three Ohio cities. In the first phase of Return to Sender, 2,179 immigrants were arrested nationwide from May 26 to June 13. The operation targets immigrants who have final orders of deportation.

On July 12, before the Ohio raids were even over, ICE began a four-day sweep in Oklahoma. ICE arrested 46 Mexican immigrants in Tulsa on July 12; all were deported the same day. ICE arrested another 81 people in Oklahoma City July 13-15. The vast majority of the 127 people arrested in the two cities were Mexican, and as of July 17, 100 of them had already been returned to Mexico. The others were from Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Peru, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Zimbabwe. The Oklahoma City Police Department, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Parole and Probation, US Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force and the Muskogee Police Department assisted with the operation. (ICE news release, July 17)

In simultaneous four-day sweeps July 17-20, ICE agents arrested 37 immigrants in and around Kansas City, 17 in the Chicago area and 12 in Louisville. ICE was helped in the Kansas City raid by the police department of Kansas City, Kansas; in Chicago by the Franklin Park police department; and in Louisville by the Grayson County Sheriff’s Department of Leitchfield, Kentucky. In the Kansas City area, 28 people were arrested in the state of Kansas and nine were arrested in Missouri. Those arrested were citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Cameroon; four of the 37 had criminal convictions and 11 had final orders of removal issued by an immigration judge. (ICE, July 21; Kansas City Star, July 22) In Chicago they came from Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, China, Tunisia, Albania, Poland and Ukraine; six of the 17 had criminal convictions and 12 had final orders of removal. In Louisville, those arrested were from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Gambia, Mauritania and Philippines; nine of the 12 had final orders of removal and one had a criminal conviction. (ICE, July 21)

In a seven-day operation that ended July 14, ICE deportation officers assigned to the Miami Field Office Fugitive Operations Team arrested 61 immigrants in various Florida cities. Most of the arrests took place in South Florida, with 35 in Miami-Dade and 16 in Broward County. The operation targeted people who had remained in the US after losing their asylum cases. In its news release announcing the arrest, ICE did not identify the Florida sweep as part of operation “Return to Sender.” (ICE, July 18; AP, July 20; South Florida Sun-Sentinel, July 20)

Border deaths near record?

Between Oct. 1, 2005, and July 16, 2006, the US Border Patrol recorded 319 deaths by people apparently trying to enter the US, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Border Patrol tabulated 326 deaths over the same period last year, and a record high of 472 for the fiscal year. Deaths, rescues and detentions are down in the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector as increased enforcement in Arizona seems to have driven would-be immigrants east to Texas or west to California. Deaths are up this year in Texas, except in the Laredo area. (UPI, July 22)

10,000 march in Chicago

An estimated 10,000 people marched through Chicago in 90-degree weather on July 19, from Union Park to a two-hour rally in Grant Park, to demand legalization for undocumented immigrants and a moratorium on deportations while Congress considers immigration reform. Speakers at the rally included congressional representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), religious leaders and Asian, Arab and Polish community advocates. Immigration advocates plan to march for three days in August from Union Park in Chicago to US House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s office in Batavia. (Daily Herald, Arlington Hts, IL, July 20)

From Immigration News Briefs, July 23

See our last posts on the immigration crackdown and the border crisis.