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Judicial Watch • U.S. Govt. Can’t Account For 623,292 Fugitives

U.S. Govt. Can’t Account For 623,292 Fugitives

U.S. Govt. Can’t Account For 623,292 Fugitives

MARCH 27, 2007

Although the U.S. government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a program to assure that deported foreigners who represent a threat actually leave the country, more than 600,000 of them are fugitives whose whereabouts are unknown.

The number of fugitive aliens has nearly doubled since the costly program was created in 2003 as a response to the deadly terrorist attacks in New York and the Pentagon a few years earlier. The goal of the National Fugitive Operation Program is supposedly to identify, locate, apprehend and remove fugitive aliens from the United States. Instead the program, which has so far cost American taxpayers $204 million, is a disaster that has not come anywhere near meeting its goal.

A lengthy Department of Homeland Security Inspector General report lists the many failures of the agency in charge–Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)–of operating the program intended to help keep Americans safe. ICE is actually the largest investigative branch within the Department of Homeland Security and its mission is to protect America and uphold public safety by targeting the people, money and materials that support terrorist and criminal activities.

The agency has more than 15,000 employees around the country and a hefty $3.1 billion budget. Its Office of Detention and Removal Operations is responsible for promoting public safety and national security by making certain that all removable aliens actually leave the country.

Government officials have for years known that many deported aliens don’t actually leave the U.S., but the 2001 terrorist attacks brought new attention to the growing problem and lawmakers allocated the $204 million to resolve the critical situation, which has actually gotten worse over the years.

The Inspector General investigation found that inaccurate databases and insufficient staffing are largely responsible for the problem. Americans can’t help but wonder why hundreds of thousands of fugitive aliens are roaming their communities when hundreds of millions of their taxpayer dollars have supposedly been used to deport them.

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