Immigration agents arrest one man, possibly others

Tribune Staff Report • Friday, Feb. 15,2008

SOUTH BEND — Agents with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested a South Bend man Friday morning at his residence.

Local immigrant advocates say that more people had been apprehended Thursday in the Elkhart area — people who had deportation orders against them. Tim Counts, a Minnesota-based spokesman for ICE, said he didn’t have information about other arrests.Then again, he said couldn’t talk about the agents’ plans.

He did confirm that Josue Palma was arrested in South Bend. Counts said a judge had granted Palma the option of voluntary departure in 1999, which generally is a chance for an illegal immigrant to leave without the penalty of being deported. Palma never left.

So Palma joined a list of fugitives that ICE seeks out for deportation. ICE’s fugitive team regularly tries to track them down, Counts said. As of October, there were almost 600,000 aliens on the list. ICE reports that it arrested more than 30,000 fugitives last year, about twice as many as the year before.

It’s unclear where Palma was being held Friday, but Counts said Palma eventually would go to a jail in the Chicago area before being deported.