U.S. immigration officials criticized policies allegedly enacted by a county government in New Jersey, in an announcement that 37 illegal aliens were arrested in a recent sting operation.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that the individuals were arrested in Middlesex County, located in central New Jersey, including the city of New Brunswick, adding that 16 of those illegal aliens were previously released from the Middlesex County Jail.
An ICE office director then slammed county officials for being uncooperative with federal law enforcement agents.
“Middlesex County, which aspires to be a ‘sanctuary county’ by protecting criminal aliens, in the process assists criminals in undermining federal law, and creates a dangerous environment in the community,” Ruben Perez, the acting field office director of Enforcement and Removal Operations for the agency’s Newark office, said in a news release on July 17.
Middlesex County officials, however, denied being a “sanctuary county.”
“To the contrary, Middlesex County has adopted a policy regarding interaction with ICE by county corrections and sheriff’s department personnel which provides that the county will honor a detainer request from ICE if the inmate has previously been convicted of a first or second degree offense or was the subject of a Final Order of Deportation signed by a federal judge,” county officials told NJ Advance Media in a statement.
Those who were arrested in the five-day sting operation were nationals of Brazil, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, and Turkey, ICE said.
The agency said they were “all were previously arrested or convicted of a variety of offenses,” not limited to aggravated criminal sexual contact, aggravated assault, DUI, hindering apprehension, endangering the welfare of a child, battery, theft, burglary, possession of a weapon, forgery, domestic violence assault, disorderly conduct, and illegal entry.
In the statement, the agency reiterated that it is focused primarily on removing public safety threats such as convicted criminals and gang members who illegally entered the United States.
ICE said that more than 66 percent of its arrests in 2018 were convicted criminals.
“Of the remaining individuals not convicted of a crime, approximately 23 percent have either been charged with a crime, are immigration fugitives, or have been removed from the United States and illegally re-entered,” said the agency in the release.