The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported since last November 2 more than 150 immigrants for their “dishonesty” by not fulfilling their commitment to leave the United States voluntarily, the agency reported Thursday.
The interim director of ICE, Tony Pham, announced the result of the so-called “Operation Broken Promise,” which targeted foreigners who promised to leave the country voluntarily rather than being deported, but in the end, never did.
Since Nov. 2, ICE agents have arrested and deported more than 150 people, of whom approximately 86% had criminal convictions or pending charges, the federal agency said in a statement.
“Those arrested in this targeted operation have broken their promise to the U.S. government and we are enforcing the consequences of that dishonesty,” the senior official said.
Usually, the foreign national requests voluntary departure and is granted it by an immigration judge.
The immigrant is then given between 60 and 120 days to arrange his own departure, instead of facing formal deportation and the barriers to readmission that come with it, 10 years without being able to attempt to enter the country legally, for the 5 years that correspond when they leave the country voluntarily.
But when he or she does not leave the country as promised, the immigrant is subject to a final removal order and formal deportation by ICE.
In addition to the barrier to readmission, illegal re-entry after formal deportation is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, the agency noted.
In a memo picked up by CNN last October, it said that over the years “thousands of aliens have accepted the benefit of voluntary departure without fulfilling their promise to the government.
These November raids came after ICE focused its objectives in October on “sanctuary” cities such as New York, Los Angeles and the nation’s capital, where it detained 178 immigrants.
The cities, counties and states considered “sanctuaries” refuse to collaborate with national authorities in the application of immigration laws, which are exclusively federal, and specifically in ICE’s requests to keep immigrants in detention without the legal support of an order from a judge or prosecutor.