U.S. Immigrants and Customs Enforcement has arrested 45 immigrants in New York City as part of a nationwide operation that targeted sanctuary cities.
Called operation “Safe City,” the four-day raid, which ended on Wednesday, resulted in a total of 498 arrests across the country.
Federal officials specifically honed in on locations that have dubbed themselves as “sanctuary” cities or states, meaning that local officials do not hold undocumented immigrants wanted by ICE solely on immigration violations in order to turn them over to federal officials.
“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 ICE Acting Director Tom Homan in a statement “As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”
The raid targeted those who have violated U.S. immigration laws and prioritized undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions, pending criminal charges and gang affiliations, according to ICE. Out of the nearly 500 arrests, 371 had criminal convictions — the most, 86 cases, resulting from driving under the influence — 68 were immigration fugitives, 104 were previously deported and 18 were gang members or affiliates.
In 2014, New York City “dramatically reduced” its cooperation with ICE, refusing to use local officials to detain immigrants at ICE’s request, “except in instances where there are public safety concerns,” the city had said in a statement then.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has defended the city’s immigration policy even as the Justice Department under the Trump Administration has threatened to withhold federal money to New York and other cities for not cooperating with federal officials.
Following that threat, de Blasio sent a letter to the Justice Department saying that the city was coopering with immigration officials “to the extent required under federal law,” according to the New York Times.
One of those arrested in New York City was an Ecuadorian citizen with a lawful permanent residence status, who had previously been charged with sexual abuse of a minor and convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, according to ICE. He was previously released from local custody before ICE could assume custody of him.