ICE deportation officers fanned out across six sanctuary city regions in recent weeks, officials announced Friday, nabbed more than 170 illegal immigrants who’d been released by local police in defiance of deportation requests.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad F. Wolf warned other sanctuaries that they’ll see a heightened U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement presence in their communities, too, as long as they refuse full cooperation on turning over people from their prisons and jails.
“These are not everyday people. They are hardened criminals,” Mr. Wolf said in a press conference from Philadelphia, one of the regions targeted.
The other regions were Denver, New York, Seattle, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
Among those was a 39-year-old from El Salvador who was arrested in Montgomery County, Maryland, on charges of sexually abusing a minor, but was released late last month in defiance of an ICE detainer request.
Also nabbed was a 28-year-old Mexican man, caught by ICE in Charlottesville, Virginia, after being released by the regional jail. The man had been deported once before and had been arrested for forgery, identity theft and driving without a license, but the jail ignored an ICE detainer request.
Overall, Homeland Security, said 84% of the new arrests had criminal convictions or pending charges, and each had been released by local authorities in defiance of an ICE request to be notified beforehand.
The arrests were part of Operation Rise, which targets sanctuaries. The operation began late last month in Los Angeles, with 128 people nabbed.
Philadelphia went to court early in the Trump administration to challenge demands for closer cooperation after the Justice Department attempted to withhold federal grant money from sanctuary cities.
Acting ICE Director Tony H. Pham said the government is abiding by that order, but that just because the federal government can’t compel cooperation, the locals should still volunteer it.
“What we’re talking about here today is mutual agreed cooperation, which that court order does not prohibit,” Mr. Pham said.
ICE has begun posting billboards in Pennsylvania to highlight some targets who have been released by sanctuaries by local communities. The goal, Mr. Wolf said, is to let residents know criminals have been released because of those sanctuary policies.
The number of sanctuary cities has soared under President Trump, with communities saying they want to protect illegal immigrants from deportation events.
The communities argue that cooperate with ICE, and the presence of ICE, scares some communities, and hinders their willingness to report crimes to local authorities.
The data is unclear on whether that is true.
But Mr. Wolf said if sanctuaries are trying to protect illegal immigrants, it’s backfiring.
If communities cooperated, it would mean turning over illegal immigrants with criminal records from prisons and jails.
Without that, ICE must send teams of officers out into communities — and they can then arrest other illegal immigrants they encounter while going after their targets.
“If communities and jurisdictions would simply cooperate with us, you would likely not see ICE in your communities,” Mr. Wolf said.