(Brendan Kirby, Lifezette) Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested 498 people from 42 countries during a four-day operation that targeted illegal immigrants who were living in so-called “sanctuary” cities and counties.
Authorities said they did not target or arrest illegal immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Acting ICE Director Tom Homan blasted policies adopted by hundreds of counties and cities that impede the efforts of federal authorities to apprehend illegal immigrants who have committed other crimes.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration,” he said in a statement. “As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”
ICE arrested 107 people in Philadelphia alone, and another 101 in Los Angeles. Other arrests took place in Denver (63), Massachusetts (50), New York (45), Portland, Oregon (33), Illinois’ Cook County (30), Baltimore (28), California’s Santa Clara (27) and Washington, D.C. (14).
ICE officials said 317 of those arrested had criminal convictions. Agents also nabbed 18 gang members and 104 illegal immigrants who previously had been deported.
The most common conviction of those arrested was for driving under the influence of alcohol. But the crimes included aggravated assault, burglary, rape, weapons violations, sexual assault and rape.
“It’s not the driver with a broken taillight that they would like you to think … These are not minor crimes,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies.
Vaughan said the operation reveals just how dangerous sanctuary cities are.
“It’s pretty shocking, the sheer number of criminal aliens with serious convictions, serious criminal histories, that were released back into the communities even though ICE told them they wanted to take them back into custody,” she said.
Local officials who adopt sanctuary policies often justify them by arguing that ICE enforcement intimidates immigrants and makes them less likely to report crimes. But Vaughan said ICE would operate much more discreetly if officers could pick up illegal immigrants at jails rather than having to hunt them down one by one in neighborhoods.
“Sanctuary policies cannot stop immigration enforcement,” she said. “What they do is produce just the kind of enforcement that the opponents say is bad … ICE should be commended for refusing to back down.”
But Vaughan said such operations take longer to plan, require more manpower and increase the danger for ICE officers and law-abiding residents.
David Cross, a spokesman for Oregonians for Immigration Reform, rejected the premise that cooperating with ICE chills crime reporting and makes communities less safe. He said that makes as much sense as arguing that local police make their communities less safe by cooperating with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Cross cheered the 33 arrests that took place in Portland. He noted that the most current data from the Oregon Department of Corrections indicates that 209 prisoners from Multnomah County — of which Portland is the county seat — are illegal immigrants. That is the second highest of any county in the state.
Cross said the county’s sheriff, Mike Reese, has adopted a hard-core sanctuary policy toward ICE.
“He’s not communicating whatsoever, whereas other sheriffs in Oregon have shared information on some level,” he said.
Cross said he does not anticipate that Multnomah County and other jurisdictions will change their policies. He aid they are extremely progressive cities and counties.
“So they’re gonna push back,” he said.
Some of those arrested in “Operation Safe City” include:
- A woman from El Salvador who entered the United States illegally on a fraudulent passport and previously was charged with attempted murder/conspiracy to commit murder and convicted of first-degree assault. Local officials released her before ICE apprehended her in Baltimore.
- A Guatemalan man who previously was convicted of felony menacing, child abuse, assault and six DUIs. ICE arrested him in Denver.
- A Mexican man and member of the Colonia Chiques gang. Officials said he rammed several law-enforcement vehicles in an attempt to avoid arrest in Los Angeles. He had a loaded handgun in his pocket, according to ICE.
- A citizen of Ecuador who was a lawful permanent resident and had been convicted of sexual abuse of a child younger than 14. New York authorities released him to rather than turn him over to ICE.
- A Mexican citizen who entered the United States on a visa and remained for 10 years after it expired and was convicted of felony possession and purchase of drug and felony child cruelty with the possibility of injury or death. Officials in San Jose, California, previously released from local custody before ICE could take him in to custody.
Republished with permission from LifeZette via iCopyright license