Deportation Raids Net 40 Here, and More Around the Nation

ICE says it is targeting criminals and gang members. Immigrant advocates dispute that

ICE agents on a raid. (photo courtesy of ICE)

ICE agents on a raid. (photo courtesy of ICE)

This story has been updated

Forty-one people were arrested in New York City and the surrounding area this past week in raids by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, which rounded up 680 people nationwide, according to the agency.

According to The Associated Press, ICE arrested some 200 people in the Carolinas and Georgia and more than 150 in and around Los Angeles and other areas, as well as 40 in New York.

According to an earlier leaked memo from the agency published by the New York Immigration Coalition on February 12, the operation here targeted “criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants, and immigration fugitives,” and “the vast majority (95%) of those arrested had criminal convictions.” On February 13, the agency said that one of the arrested was a self-professed member of an El Salvadoran gang with an assault conviction, and two men with records of sexual assault against children, one from Jamaica and one from Mexico.

The agency did not release information on the backgrounds of the other 38 people it arrested, however. And according to advocates, the definition of “criminal” is not clear. Mayra Hidalgo, the executive director of Hudson Valley Community Coalition, an advocate for immigrants, cautioned that a “criminal conviction” might refer to immigration status. “You have to remember that the definition of criminal was broadened after Trump’s Executive Orders,” she said. Shortly after taking office, the president signed an executive order making it clear that almost any alien living illegally in the U.S. could be targeted, according to The Associated Press.

According to the leaked memo, the ICE operation was aimed at “convicted criminal aliens and gang members.” The raids started last Monday and extended onto Friday, according to the document. The memo also stressed that the raids were part of ICE’s “routine, daily operations.” ICE deportation officers “conduct targeted enforcement operations every day in locations around the country,” it said. The memo goes on to warn that reports of ICE checkpoints and sweeps “are false, dangerous, and irresponsible. These reports create mass panic and put communities and law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger.”

According to Hidalgo of the Hudson Valley Community Coalition, fear has indeed been widespread. “Folks have been terrorized in the community. They’re not even leaving their houses.”

Hidalgo confirmed one arrest in Hudson City and said, “This person is definitely not a gang member.” The arrested individual has two children with North American citizenship, she said.

Deborah Axt, the Co-Executive Director of Make The Road New York, issued a statement regarding the reference to the targeting of criminals. “Make no mistake: this definition is broad enough to cover nearly anyone who came to this country to survive, to put food in their children’s mouths, or to flee violence and persecution. This attack on immigrant communities is an attack on us all, and will be met with resistance from individuals of conscience in this country.”

ICE release its official statement today in the afternoon, after Chuck Schumer, Senator for New York, demanded that the agency do so in a statement: “I am troubled by the lack of transparency and potential due process violations surrounding ICE’s most recent enforcement actions,” he said and added that “targeting law-abiding immigrants and treating those with traffic violations the same as murderers and robbers” won’t help keep the country safe.

According to a press release from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), the series of raids resulted in arrests of 680 people—in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio, and New York. According to the February 13 release, the arrested individuals posed a threat to public safety. Several NGO’s have challenged those claims.

The report commended efforts of ICE officers, the U.S. Marshal Service as well as “cooperating state and local law enforcement agencies.” ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) headed the operation, and has conducted several national targeted fugitive operation enforcement efforts ub tge oast. The last nation-wide operation was in March 2015 and resulted in 2,059 arrests.

Out of the 680 people, 90 were arrested between Georgia and the Carolinas; a total of 235 were arrested in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Kansas, and Missouri; 161 in Los Angeles area; 51 in San Antonio area, and 41 in New York. According to the official report, out of those in New York, 38 had been “criminally convicted” but only three cases were specified in the release.

Further raids and arrests are expected as a by-product of these raids since ICE said that officers “officers frequently encounter additional suspects who may be in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws. Those persons will be evaluated on a case by case basis and, when appropriate, arrested by ICE,” according to the release.

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