Federal immigration officials in Colorado use a chartered airplane to deport dozens of people per week from the Denver area, KMGH reports.
Nicknamed “ICE Air,” the plane flies to Nogales, Arizona, a border town, and from there, some deportees are flown into Mexico City.
Reporters from KMGH recently spoke with Hector Alfonso Nunez Beltran on the day of his deportation.
Nunez has a criminal record and had been nearing the end of his sentence in a Colorado jail prior to his arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.
“I was hanging out with the wrong people and got a felony charge. It’s my first one ever. That’s what caught ICE’s attention,” he said.
Beltran was brought to the U.S. by his parents when he was 1 year old.
“I’ve always put my hand to my heart for the American flag. I feel like I am an American, but I understand I’m not. I didn’t bring myself here, I was brought here.”
Beltran says the only person he knows in Mexico is his brother, who was deported seven years ago.
Jeff Lynch, head of Denver’s ICE field office, said agents’ priority is to arrest those in the country illegally who have committed violent crimes.
“We don’t do random (checks) and we don’t do sweeps or checkpoints on the terms that we see in the media,” Lynch said. “Every arrest we make is targeted and there’s an investigation that leads us to an individual.”
If undocumented residents who haven’t committed violent crimes are discovered in the process, then it’s up to agents whether or not to make additional arrests, Lynch said.
Watch more below.