The No Safe Haven Initiative
The United States grants admission to more refugees and asylum seekers annually than any other nation.
Individuals fleeing wars, genocide, ethnic cleansing and various other forms of persecution have often view the United States as a safe haven.
Upon entry, the vast majority of these people choose to remain here permanently and, ultimately, gain citizenship through the naturalization process.
Unfortunately, individuals who have perpetrated significant abuses against others in their home countries seek entry to evade prosecution and punishment.
Frequently, these individuals hide among those they once persecuted, falsely claiming to be victims of abuse.
They may be former officials of regimes that are or were potentially hostile to our nation and its interests, making them not only human-rights violators, but also national security threats.
HSI’s No Safe Haven Initiative targets these individuals.
Those accused of human rights violations cannot escape justice by hiding in the United States. HSI is committed to keeping the nation safe by ensuring the secure removal of aliens with known ties to human rights violations.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) recently arrested 33 fugitives sought for their roles in known or suspected human rights violations during a nationwide operation this week, during Operation No Safe Haven IV.
During the three-day operation that concluded Wednesday, the ICE National Fugitive Operations Program in coordination with the ICE Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC) and the ICE National Criminal Analysis and Targeting Center (NCATC), arrested these fugitives via the ICE field offices of Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; New Orleans; New York City; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Seattle; San Francisco; and St. Paul, Minnesota.
The foreign nationals arrested during this operation all have outstanding removal orders and are subject to repatriation to their countries of origin.
Of the 33 known or suspected human rights violators arrested during Operation No Safe Haven IV, eight individuals are also criminal aliens with convictions for crimes including, but not limited to battery, weapons offenses, driving while intoxicated, and resisting arrest.
This operation surpassed the number of known or suspected human rights violators arrested during the first nationwide No Safe Haven operation, which took place in September 2014.
“This operation continues ICE’s work to ensure that the United States does not serve as a safe haven for those who commit human rights violations in their countries of origin,” said Thomas D. Homan, Deputy Director of ICE.
“We will continue to pursue these individuals as priorities for enforcement— using our agency’s unique authorities to investigate criminal activity and to enforce immigration laws.”
Those arrested across the country included:
- Four Chinese individuals—some of whom were hospital employees—who assisted in or directly conducted forced abortions and sterilizations upon victims in China;
- A former intelligence officer who surveilled and arrested dozens of targets subsequently tortured in Central America;
- A soldier in Central America who guided the military to a specific village for the purpose of killing its residents;
- A ranking intelligence officer from the Middle East whose surveillance information led to the arrest, torture, and murder of those his unit targeted;
- A group leader in East Africa who used violence to force victims into Female Genital Mutilation.
ICE is committed to rooting out known or suspected human rights violators who seek a safe haven in the United States.
(Learn More about HRVWCU. ICE HSI operates the HRVWCU within the National Security Investigations Division (NSID). Preceded by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, HSI has more than 30 years of experience in successfully investigating human rights violators. The unit conducts investigations focused on human rights violations in an effort to prevent the United States from becoming a safe haven to those individuals who engage in the commission of war crimes, genocide, torture and other forms of serious human rights abuses from conflicts around the globe. Courtesy of ICE and YouTube)
The unit has four important missions:
- To prevent the admission of foreign war crimes suspects, persecutors and human rights abusers into the United States.
- To identify and prosecute individuals who have been involved and/or responsible for the commission of human rights abuses across the globe.
- To remove, whenever possible, those offenders who are located in the United States.
- To oversee the development of programs in response to the former President’s Presidential Study Directive-10, the prevention of mass atrocities.
ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center investigates human rights violators who try to evade justice by seeking shelter in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers.
These individuals may use fraudulent identities or falsified records to enter the country and attempt to blend into communities in the United States.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to contact ICE by calling the toll-free ICE tip line at 1-866-347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199.
They can also email HRV.ICE@ice.dhs.gov or complete ICE’s online tip form.
The HRVWCC was established in 2009 to further ICE’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation and the use or recruitment of child soldiers.
The HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.
Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 395 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes.
During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 785 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States.
Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 108 such individuals from the United States.
To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact ICE’s confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973.