Reality Check on Operation Cross Check

By Jessica M. Vaughan on April 4, 2012

On Monday, ICE announced the results of the latest installment of Operation Cross Check, an initiative that locates and apprehends aliens with serious criminal records who are at large. Agents arrested more than 3,100 of these criminal aliens in March. That's helpful. But it also would be helpful if ICE would do what it takes to keep these criminals from being "at-large" so that they don 't need to be staked out and rounded up, but merely held until they can be removed.

For instance, I noticed that at least three of the individuals mentioned in ICE 's press release were very recently arrested sex offenders in Massachusetts and Illinois. If ICE had implemented the Secure Communities program in these states — as many local law enforcement agencies have asked them to do — instead of deferring to the governors' sanctuary policies, they would have been informed of these three sex offenders' whereabouts months ago:

  • Ryder Ventura-Minaya, 29, citizen of the Dominican Republic, of Methuen, Mass. Convicted on April 25, 2002, of indecent assault and battery on a child and convicted on September 27, 2011, for failure to register as a sex offender.

  • Joaquim Arruda, 51, citizen of Portugal, arrested in Swansea, Mass. Convicted on February 22, 2011, of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.

  • Valentin Xicotencatl-Ramirez, 21, citizen of Mexico, of Chicago, Ill. Convicted on February 10, 2012, of criminal sexual abuse of a victim 13-16 years old.

Wouldn't it have been easier for ICE officers to grab them when they were already in the custody of local police? Then they can't flee — or worse, re-offend. Nearly 10 percent of ICE 's caseload under Secure Communities are people who were in custody once, released to await a hearing, and then got arrested again.

ICE estimates that there are more than a million criminal aliens at large nationwide. There are more than 700,000 individuals at large, many of them criminals, who have absconded from immigration proceedings. This number has grown 28 percent under the Obama administration.

This is what ICE Director John Morton calls "smart and effective" immigration law enforcement.