According to media reports at the weekend, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 498 foreign nationals for federal immigration violations during a four-day operation.
The crackdown, referred to as ‘Operation Safe City’, saw undocumented immigrants rounded up from as many as 42 different nations across ten US counties or cities, ICE has revealed.
There were 107 arrests in Philadelphia, with 101 arrested in Los Angeles. Third to tenth places in the number of arrests were taken by Denver, the State of Massachusetts and New York, followed by Seattle and Santa Clara County, Baltimore, and then Cook County, and finally, Washington DC. The states, cities, and counties selected for the operation were ‘sanctuary regions’. They have refused to allow ICE deportation officers to enter prisons and jails to talk to those suspected of violating immigration laws or have declined to honor ICE detainers.
The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Thomas Homan, accused such ‘sanctuary jurisdictions’ of protecting criminal immigrants from immigration enforcement and becoming magnets for undocumented immigrants. Of the immigrants placed under arrest in the operation, 317 had criminal convictions, 104 previously deported from the US, 68 were fugitives and 18 members of criminal gangs.
Undocumented immigrants have become a highly contentious issue in US politics following the election of President Donald Trump. Politically liberal regions have vowed to try to stop efforts to detain and deport undocumented immigrants being carried out by the federal government.