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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents, working with area county law-enforcement authorities in the Chicago area last week arrested 25 foreign-born, convicted sex offenders who had preyed on children and minors.

Those arrested include citizens of six countries: Mexico, Bosnia, the Philippines, Peru, Ireland, and Canada – though 18 of those picked up were from Mexico. They include 15 permanent residents of the U.S. (“green card” holders), nine individuals who entered the U.S. illegally, and one person who entered the U.S. on a visitor’s visa but violated its terms by overstaying. All now face removal from the United States, though most have the right to a hearing before a federal immigration judge, who will make the final determination as to whether they must leave the country.

The arrests were the result of a cooperative effort among ICE and the sheriff’s departments of Cook, Will, DuPage, McHenry, Kane, and Kendall counties in Illinois.

The arrests are part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 6,000 individuals, including more than 300 in Illinois, making it one of the top 10 states in the country for apprehensions.

Among the crimes committed by those arrested are:

  • A “green card” holder who returned to his country of citizenship and was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor, then returned to the United States. The conviction, even though it was committed abroad, could result in the man losing his legal status here.

  • A man who committed a sexual act in the presence of a 14-year-old minor with the intent or knowledge that the person would view it.

  • A man who was convicted of aggravated sexual abuse for touching a 9-year-old girl for the purpose of sexual gratification.

    Operation Predator targets four different types of violators:

    Foreign National Child Predators: More than 85 percent of the arrests in Operation Predator involve foreign national sex offenders whose crimes make them removable from the United States. To date, more than 2,100 of these foreign-born predators have been removed from the U.S. to their home nations. As part of this process, ICE advises the host nation governments about the criminal histories of each sex predator it is deporting to their nations. ICE also issues Green Notices though Interpol in appropriate cases. The Green Notice provides information on career criminals who have committed, or are likely to commit, offenses in several countries.

    ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. Investigators staff this hotline around the clock.

    Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678.

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