WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Thursday the conclusion of a week-long targeted enforcement operation that resulted in the apprehension of more than 170 at-large aliens throughout the U.S., where sanctuary policies have largely prohibited the cooperation of law enforcement agencies in the arrest of criminal aliens.
ICE officers assigned to field offices in Seattle, Denver, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C. conducted the enforcement actions Oct. 3 through Oct. 9. The enforcement actions focused on aliens subject to removal who were arrested for crimes but were released by state or local law enforcement agencies despite having active immigration detainers in place. More than 80% percent of aliens arrested had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges at the time of arrest.
“Last fiscal year, 86 percent of people arrested by ICE had criminal convictions or pending charges. ICE focuses its resources on those who pose the greatest threat to public safety. The men and women of ICE put their lives on the line every day to keep these individuals off the streets,” said Acting DHS Secretary Chad F. Wolf. “The Department will continue to carry out lawful enforcement actions in order to keep our communities safe, regardless of whether or not we have cooperation from state and local officials. Politics will not come before safety when enforcing the law and keeping our citizens safe.”
“ICE continues to protect communities by taking criminal aliens off the streets regardless of any locality’s cooperation policies – which is part of our Congressionally mandated mission,” said ICE Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director Tony H. Pham. “Officers and agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are sworn federal law enforcement officers who enforce U.S. immigration laws created by Congress to keep this country safe.”
During these recent enforcement actions, ICE officers identified, targeted and arrested multiple criminal aliens who were previously released from local and state law enforcement custody despite having lawful immigration detainers lodged with local law enforcement officials. In the New York City area alone, officers arrested nearly 50 unlawfully present individuals with criminal histories that include sexual assault, sex crime, assault, robbery, larceny, family neglect and DUI.
ICE arrested the following individuals as part of the enforcement actions:
- A 28-year-old citizen of Mexico, Oct. 8 in Charlottesville, Virginia. ICE had previously lodged three immigration detainers with the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail on Romero after his arrests for felony forgery, identity theft and driving without a license, but the jail declined to honor the detainers and released him into the community. ICE previously removed him to Mexico in March 2013, and he illegally reentered the United States after his removal. He is in ICE custody pending removal to Mexico.
- A 29-year-old citizen of Mexico, Oct. 9 in Longmont, Colorado. He has a March 2018 conviction for illegal reentry and October 2020 convictions for felony menacing-real/simulated weapon, child abuse and violation of bail bond conditions. He is in ICE custody pending removal to Mexico
- A 64-year-old citizen of Panama, Oct. 8 in the Bronx, New York. He has a May 2010 conviction for sexual conduct against a child in the 2nd degree in May 2010. He is in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.
- A 61-year-old citizen of Peru, Oct. 8, in Astoria, New York. He has a February 2016 conviction for committing a criminal sex act in the 3rd degree with a victim younger than 17 years old. He is in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.
- A 25-year-old citizen of Guatemala, Oct. 8 in Seattle. The Renton Police Department arrested Morales-Martin for commercial sex abuse of a minor in February 2019. He was released from local custody before ICE could lodge an immigration detainer. ICE previously removed him in August 2013, and he illegally reentered the United States after his removal. He is in ICE custody pending his removal to Guatemala.
Last week, DHS and ICE announced the arrest of 128 at-large aliens as part of immigration enforcement actions conducted in sanctuary jurisdictions throughout California from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2.
In FY 2019, ICE arrested individuals with more than 1,900 convictions and charges for homicide, 1,800 for kidnapping, 12,000 sex offenses, 5,000 sexual assaults, 45,000 assaults, 67,000 crimes involving drugs, 10,000 weapons offenses, and 74,000 DUIs. ICE continues to target criminal aliens and other public safety and national security threats every day.
ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All those in violation of immigration law may be subject to arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States. ICE takes many factors into account when targeting and arresting individuals, including their criminal and immigration history.
Sanctuary policies restrict most forms of cooperation with federal immigration authorities and vastly impede ICE’s ability to work with partner agencies, according to ICE officials, requiring ICE to arrest at-large criminal aliens in the communities, instead of a secure, jail environment.
ICE maintains that cooperation with local law enforcement is essential to protecting public safety, and the agency aims to work cooperatively with local jurisdictions to ensure that criminal aliens are not released into U.S. communities to commit additional crimes.