The National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP) was established in 2003 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to locate, apprehend, and remove dangerous fugitive aliens. NFOP's own website states that it will "give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and community safety, including members of transnational street gangs, child sex offenders, and aliens with prior convictions for violent crimes."
And no immigration enforcement program has seen such a dramatic increase in funding or staffing than NFOP.
When the program was initiated in 2003, the Fugitive Operations Teams as they're called received only $9 million in the first fiscal year. By 2008, this number had soared to $218 million.
While NFOP has apprehended an estimated 97,000 people since its inception, the Fugitive Operations program has also been criticized for carrying out some of the most controversial immigration enforcement tactics, including sweeping residential raids and arrests.
MPI's findings that 73% of the program's arrests are of non-criminal immigrants, therefore, throw NFOP into an even more controversial light. Key findings include:
- Nearly 3/4 of NFOP's arrests are NOT dangerous fugitives; rather, they are "status" violators whose civil offense is equal it little more than a traffic violation
- The arrest of dangerous criminals has actually DECREASED throughout the tenure of the National Fugitive Operations Program
- The implementation of a quota-system of NFOP arrests led to an increasing arrest of "ordinary status violators" as they are called by ICE