Courtesy of The Dispatch
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to establish a fugitive operations team in Rock Island later this year to capture previously deported immigrants still living in the country.
The team of four agents would hunt fugitives who are violating court orders to stay out of the country, Gail Montenegro, an ICE spokeswoman in Chicago, said Tuesday. Ice has created more than 50 fugitive operations teams nationwide as part of a strategic plan to secure the country’s borders and cut down on illegal immigration, she said.
Local immigration rights activists,
like Esteban Loustaunau, said he supports the office if agents are strictly here to catch immigrants with criminal records. But he’s worried that ICE has a hidden agenda in coming to Rock Island.
“We are against unannounced raids in the work-place,” said Mr. Loustaunau vice president of Casa Gunajuato, a Hispanic advocate advocacy group in Moline. “If that’s the reason they’re coming here, then I don’t want them.”
In 1997, federal agents arrested more than 100 illegal immigrants working at the IBP beef processing plant in Joslin. Tyson Fresh Meats currently owns the plant. In November, ICE agents arrested 17 immigrants with criminal records living in the Quad Cities.
Mr. Loustaunau said ICE officials need to be forthright about why they’re creating a team in Rock Island. If agents need help in finding immigrants who committed crimes, then they should try to work with the Latino community to catch those people, he said.
The team could be ready in the fall, Ms. Montenegro said. ICE estimated that about 600,000 immigrant fugitives are living in the U.S. and are defying their court orders to leave the country, she said.
The ICE office would join other federal law enforcement agencies with offices in the area, including the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.