Operation Return to Sender
According to ICE, the campaign has focused on individuals deemed to be the most dangerous, including convicted felons and gang members, particularly those of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang, as well as repeat offenders, some of whom had already been deported. As of late April 2007, over 23,000 illegal immigrants had been arrested.
On Sept. 19, 2006 ICE conducted a sting operation and arrested 11 immigrants in Danbury, Connecticut who came to be known as "The Danbury 11." A federal agent disguised himself as a contractor and enlisted the men to work on a construction site before handing them over to ICE. 9 of the 11 were later released on bail. In January 2007, due to a major push within Operation Return to Sender, raids in the Los Angeles Metro area netted 338 illegal immigrants who were arrested at their homes and apartments and 423 who were identified in area jails since Jan. 17. Those already jailed will be transferred to federal custody when they finish serving their state sentences, said Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
An ICE press release from June 14, 2006 claims that Operation Return to Sender ended June 13, 2006 and brought in "More Than 2,100 Criminal Aliens, Gang Members, Fugitives and Other Immigration Violators". However, this is contradicted by numerous citations that the operation is ongoing, including one from the Contra Costa Times newspaper dated March 9, 2007, which quotes ICE as having arrested 13,000 more people from mid-June 2006 through January 2007, and also outlines the ACLU of Northern California's involvement in filing FOIA requests to find out more information about how ICE is conducting this operation. Raids in Marin County, California under "Return To Sender" occurred in early March 2007, showing that the operation continues. On June 6, 2007 ICE arrested 29 individuals in New Haven, Connecticut as part of Operation Return to Sender and arrested a few days later in nearby North Haven. Some of these individuals had no criminal or immigration history.
- "San Francisco Bay Area Reacts Angrily to Series of Immigration Raids" - New York Times, April 28, 2007.
- "Agency Nabs Illegal Immigrants Across U.S." - Associated Press, June 14, 2006.
- "Boston Among Cities In Illegal Immigrant Blitz" - Associated Press, June 14, 2006.
- "ICE Press Release on Operation Return to Sender" June 14, 2006.
- "Immigration Raid has Chilling effect on Mendota community" March 2007.