Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested nearly 500 immigration violators in a nationwide operation this week, pursuing criminal aliens residing in cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
The operation, dubbed “Safe City,” nabbed a total of 498 people who were living in cities and states where immigration officers are denied access to jails or where immigration detention requests are ignored.
The operation focused on illegal aliens with criminal convictions, known gang members and affiliates, and people who re-entered the country after being deported, ICE officials said. People with active status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program were not targeted, according to ICE.
“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,” ICE acting director Tom Homan said in a statement. “As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”
The Trump administration has tried to pressure sanctuary cities into cooperating with its immigration enforcement policies. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in July said local jurisdictions would have to allow ICE agents access to jails and honor immigration detainers in order to be eligible for certain criminal justice grants.
A federal judge issued a nationwide injunction earlier this month against Sessions’ order after Chicago sued the Justice Department. Sanctuary cities will be eligible for the grants while the case makes its way through the courts.
In the meantime, ICE has stepped up immigration arrests in sanctuary cities, drawing the protest from state and local officials. Many have criticized ICE for arresting criminal aliens in courthouses and other “sensitive” locations, but ICE says they must operate in those places because sanctuary city policies prevent the officials from making arrests in local detention facilities.
Homan suggested in July that he would devote more manpower to cases where the local jurisdiction does not turn criminal aliens over to immigration agents.
“As Director Homan stated, uncooperative jurisdictions have a higher rate of criminal alien releases than in places that honor ICE detainers,” an ICE official told The Daily Caller News Foundation at the time. “As a result, ICE is forced to focus additional resources to conduct at-large arrests in the field in these non-cooperative areas.”
Operation Safe City included arrests in Cook County, Ill., Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Portland, Ore. All of those jurisdictions strictly limit local law enforcement cooperation with ICE and do not honor immigration detention requests unless backed by a criminal warrant.
Of the 498 illegal immigrants arrested during the operation, 317 had criminal convictions, 104 had illegally re-entered after being previously deported, and 68 were immigration fugitives with final orders of removal.
I.C.E. COMMITS TO ‘ENFORC[ING] THE LAW’ IN SPITE OF SANCTUARY CITIES:
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