EXCLUSIVE: Ride-along with ICE's Fugitive Operations Team

One of the jobs for the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or "ICE", is to pick up people who have violated federal immigration law. ICE officials said its goal is to do the job fairly, and with surgical precision.

ICE heads out at 5:00 a.m., and at dawn, there's a meeting to iron out details.

"You are witnessing what Fugitive Operations Teams do around the nation, on a daily basis," said Enrique Lucero, Phoenix Field Office Director for ICE. Lucero said he wants to show the public that the agency does targeted enforcement operations.

"We do not do sweeps or raids. We are looking for individuals who are a public safety threat," said Lucero.

The team made its first stop not far from 59th Avenue and McDowell in West Phoenix. At that location, the man came to the door, and faced with a show of force, quietly surrendered. According to ICE, the man is in the country illegally, and has a DUI and records of vehicular crimes in his past.

The team also made a stop in Surprise, where a man from Slovakia, a country in Central Europe, was the target. That man came outside to see his wife off to work, as well as to smoke a cigarette. Soon enough, the man found himself in an ICE van. That Slovakia man, according to ICE, is in the country illegally, and was wanted for tax evasion by Slovakian officials.

The next stop for those picked up during operations on Wednesday was the ICE Headquarters in Phoenix, near Central and McDowell. Some, like Jesus Martinez, said it was all a mistake. Martinez was picked up in Chandler.

"It was a misunderstanding," said Martinez. "It was about a court date. I thought it was May, but it was March."

ICE, however, disagrees.

"The man is a known gang member in Chandler with a criminal record who served a year in State Prison," said Lucero.

ICE officials said it is not about politics, and they are just picking up people who allegedly violated the law. Those nabbed will get their day in front of a judge.

 

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