U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested over 2,000 “at-large individuals living illegally in the U.S., or who are removable from the U.S. due to their criminal histories,” in July and August, the agency announced Tuesday.
The recent actions mostly targeted people who have been arrested for — or have pending charges or convictions related to — serious crimes involving victims, ICE reported.
“The aliens targeted during this operation preyed on men, women and children in our communities, committing serious crimes and, at times, repeatedly hurting their victims,” said Tony H. Pham, senior official performing the duties of the ICE director.
According to ICE’s news release: “Data captured from July 13 to Aug. 20 shows that ICE officers arrested more than 2,000 at-large individuals living illegally in the U.S., or who are removable from the U.S. due to their criminal histories.
“About 85 percent of those arrested by ICE on immigration charges also had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges,” it added.
“By focusing our efforts on perpetrators of crimes against people, we’re able to remove these threats from our communities and prevent future victimization from occurring,” Pham said.
“Through our targeted enforcement efforts, we are eliminating the threat posed by these criminals, many of whom are repeat offenders.”
The criminal convictions and charges associated with the individuals include assault, domestic violence, sexual offenses, kidnapping and arson. Among the immigrants arrested, there were more than 1,000 criminal convictions, including 388 convictions for assault and 291 for domestic violence.
There were 14 convictions and 12 pending homicide charges for homicide among those arrested, as well as 71 convictions and 40 pending charges for sexual offenses involving a minor.
ICE reassured the public that the agency takes many different factors into account when targeting and arresting individuals.
The announcement comes days after the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced a permanent moratorium on transferring illegal immigrants who are under ICE detainer to the federal government “based solely on a civil immigration detainer.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he wouldn’t transfer the illegal immigrants due to ICE detention facility conditions and a fear of deportation.
“There is no greater threat to public safety than a million undocumented immigrants who are afraid to report crime, out of fear of deportation and having their families torn apart,” Villanueva said in a statement. “As the Sheriff of Los Angeles County, I am responsible for everyone’s public safety, regardless of immigration status. I will not allow an entire segment of the population to be afraid to report crimes to law enforcement and be forced, again, back into the shadows.”
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Executive Associate Directory Henry Lucero pushed back, arguing that the sheriff was appealing to local residents and misinforming them about ICE operations.
“As a federal law enforcement agency, ICE supports all individuals reporting crimes regardless of immigration status in the United States,” Lucero told the Washington Examiner.
He added that any illegal immigrant who is a victim of or witness to a crime is eligible to apply for a visa.
“When a law enforcement agency fails to honor these immigration detainers and releases serious criminal offenders back onto the streets, it undermines our ability to protect public safety and carry out our national security mission,” ICE’s ERO Los Angeles Office field director, Dave Marin, said in a statement last month.
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