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Border Patrol Agents Arrest Illegal Immigrants With Criminal Records

Posted: March 18, 2008 03:52 PM PDT

Suleika Acosta, KOLD News 13 Reporter

They are busted by the Border Patrol. Illegal immigrants caught with a criminal past include crimes against children. In the past five days border agents arrested seven illegal immigrants they call sexual predators. The arrests happened near Douglas, Naco, Nogales, Tucson and Sonoita.

For thousands of illegal immigrants caught crossing the border, it's not their first run in with the law. Border patrol agents say up to 15% of immigrants arrested have a criminal past.

"That can be anything from as minor as a DUI to as major as a homicide even sexual predators as well," explains Chuy Rodriguez, with Tucson Sector Border Patrol.

When agents catch immigrants, their fingerprints are run through an automated ID System that links up to an FBI database. That's how agents find out if they have a criminal on their hands.

"When they get caught, they may use a different name. They may use a different date of birth but once you run the checks on them, you find out who they are."

Many of those arrested are Mexican nationals who were sent back after serving time and some are fugitives running under the radar. Those offenders are prosecuted in the U.S. where they serve jail time before being deported.

"They may have been here for a number of years and they're comfortable in that setting so even though they're deported formally, they're still going to make that effort to make their way to where they're from."

Last year, Border Patrol arrested almost 400,000 illegal immigrants and so far this year the number of criminals caught is not on the rise but agents say it's important they're arrested before they return to their old communities.

"Nobody that I know would want somebody who's been deported as a criminal alien back in their neighborhood, back in their community. They're a danger to that community."

Wanted criminals are also getting caught at our ports of entry. Last year, 1,200 U.S. fugitives were arrested, many were American.