(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) says that as of Sunday, Sept. 5, it had caught-and-released 506,232 illegal aliens who are now fugtives. That is more than the population of Sacramento, California, which currently numbers 486,189.
Fugitive illegal aliens are individuals who were apprehended ICE for being in the United States illegally and then were released ahead of their court proceedings and deemed fugitive when they failed to appear in court.
CNSNews.com asked Brian P. Hale, director of public affairs at ICE, about DHS’s annual report Immigration Enforcement Actions: 2009, which includes information on apprehensions and deportations but does not include data on illegal aliens who are fugitives from the law.
CNSNews.com asked if ICE could provide the number of illegal alien fugitives for FY 2009 and the number to date for 2010.
In an e-mail to CNSNews.com, Hale said the fugitive backlog as of Oct. 1, 2009 (the first day of FY 2010) was 534,497. He also said that number had been reduced by 28,265 since then, making the total fugitive backlog of illegal aliens 506,232 as of Sept. 5, 2010.
Hale said that ICE personnel are spending more time arresting criminal illegal aliens rather than fugitive illegal aliens.
“It is important to note that our fugitive operations teams now can spend up to 30 percent of their time arresting convicted criminals at-large,” Hale said. “Thus, their fugitive arrests don’t reflect all of their work.”
In an earlier story on the number of fugitives that are in the United States illegally from countries other than Mexico, CNSNews.com asked ICE spokeswoman Gillian Brigham to define what DHS considers a fugitive.
Brigham said a “fugitive” is defined as an individual who has been found legally deportable and has evaded authorities.
“A fugitive is an individual who has a final order of removal and has absconded,” Brigham said.
Given the fugitive backlog of 506,232, for comparison the population of the city of Sacramento, Calif., is 466,687, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, while Kansas City, Mo., is 482,299; Albuquerque, NM., is 528,497; and Atlanta, Ga., is 540,921.