ICE Arrests More Than 170 Illegal Aliens At-Large in Sanctuary City Crackdown

October 16, 2020 Updated: October 17, 2020

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced Thursday that it has arrested more than 170 at-large illegal immigrants throughout the country in a crackdown focused on sanctuary cities.

The 176 arrests in Philadelphia, Denver, Seattle, New York, Washington, and Baltimore were a culmination of a week-long effort from Oct. 3-9 as Phase 2 of “Operation Rise,” the agency’s latest operation targeting criminal aliens in sanctuary cities.

According to the announcement, ICE officers arrested criminal aliens who were arrested for crimes but were released by local or state law enforcement despite having lawful immigration detainers lodged with local law enforcement officials. More than 80 percent of those arrested had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges at the time of arrest.

ICE is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Acting DHS Secretary Chad F. Wolf said on Friday at a press conference in Philadelphia that the latest week of arrests “targeted some of the most violent and dangerous criminal aliens living illegally in our country.”

The ICE announcement noted that 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.”

“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,” Wolf said in a statement. “Politics will not come before safety when enforcing the law and keeping our citizens safe.”

Wolf also noted that 86 percent of people arrested by ICE in the last fiscal year had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges at the time of arrest. In fiscal year 2019, ICE arrested people 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 activity
A DHS agent making an arrest as part of a weeklong effort targeting criminal aliens, California between Sept. 28 and Oct. 2, 2020. (Michael Johnson/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

The first phase of Operation Rise took place Sept. 28-Oct. 2 and focused on several areas in California that had implemented sanctuary city policies. The effort resulted in the arrest of 128 at-large illegal immigrants, more than 95 percent of whom had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges at the time of arrest.

“Sanctuary cities” is a broad term referring to jurisdictions with policies that prevent local officials from cooperating with federal immigration authorities such as ICE. If an illegal immigrant is arrested or convicted of a crime and ICE requests custody of them, sanctuary policies can prevent law enforcement from honoring the request. Eight states and hundreds of cities across the United States are recognized as sanctuaries for illegal immigrants.

“Put simply, Sanctuary City policies are a threat to the Homeland and put the safety of the American people in jeopardy so that certain local politicians can score cheap political points at the cost of Americans’ lives and safety,” Wolf said on Friday.

“Politicians and media pundits may attempt to spin and hide the truth, but the fact remains: Sanctuary City policies shield violent criminal aliens at the expense of American lives. There’s simply no way around it.”

He added, “At the end of the day, this is about one thing and one thing only: preventing future crime and protecting Americans. Sanctuary jurisdictions are playing politics with your safety. Plain and simple.”

The ICE announcement specifically noted the following individuals as part of the latest 176 arrests:

  • A 28-year-old citizen of Mexico was arrested on Oct. 8 in Charlottesville, Virginia. ICE had previously lodged three immigration detainers with the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail 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 was arrested on 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 was arrested on 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 was arrested on 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 was arrested on Oct. 8 in Seattle. The Renton Police Department arrested him 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.
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