Federal deportation officers swarmed sanctuary cities this week, netting nearly 500 immigrants in a series of targeted operations designed to go after people that counties and cities were shielding through their noncooperation policies.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it netted more than 100 migrants in Los Angeles and Philadelphia each, and dozens more in Baltimore, Chicago, Denver and New York, among other sanctuary jurisdictions.
Of the 498 aliens caught, 310 of them were targets and the other 188 were “collateral” arrests of illegal immigrants whom officers encountered while going after their targets, the agency said.
ICE officials also said they’re seeing an increase in resistance from aliens as they step up enforcement of the law. Through the first 11 months of fiscal year 2017, the agency recorded 37 assaults on officers, compared to just nine assaults in all of 2016.
A senior official briefing reporters on the numbers Thursday said one gang member they tried to arrest in the latest actions attempted to run over the officers with a vehicle, and then, when he was taken into custody, he was found to have a loaded firearm.
“These are dangerous individuals we’re going after,” the official said, adding that’s why they would hope for better cooperation from state and local authorities, to help take dangerous criminal aliens into custody from prisons and jails, where the handoff can be controlled.
The official said none of the officers involved in the vehicle incident or any of the other arrests was seriously injured.
One of the Baltimore arrests was a woman from El Salvador who was charged with attempted murder and had an assault conviction on her record, but whom local authorities released before ICE could take custody.
In New York, officers nabbed a man the city had released rather than turn over to ICE despite a conviction for sexual abuse of a minor.
“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,” said Thomas Homan, acting director of ICE. “As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”
ICE specifically said that it didn’t target anyone who is currently protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama-era deportation amnesty for Dreamers.
Some 14 aliens were nabbed in Washington, D.C. — illegal immigrants convicted of gun crimes, assault and drug possession.
Sanctuary cities — the name given to those jurisdictions that have policies that either refuse cooperation or actively attempt to thwart federal deportation officers — have become more active under the Trump administration.
They say they need to counter the new administration’s determination to enforce immigration laws more strictly than the Obama administration.
In the most common form, sanctuary policies prevent local police and sheriff’s departments from holding or even notifying the federal government when they have a deportable immigrant they are about to release.
ICE says sanctuary policies backfires. Not only do criminals end up back on the streets, but officers then have to go out into the community to try to get them, in encounters that are unsafe — and end up netting still more illegal immigrants.