NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - President Donald Trump's tough talk on immigration is fueling fears of roundups and raids through undocumented immigrant communities, estimated at more than half a million people in New York City and nearly a million statewide. And in these communities, a small but growing number are career criminals.
Fox 5 hit the streets with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officers for an exclusive look at what they're doing to keep everyone safe.
It was 4:30 a.m. in the secure basement of a federal facility in Central Islip, Long Island. We were with ICE's fugitive operations team as agents geared up to arrest two convicted sex offenders who never should have been in the United States in the first place.
About 20 hours of preparation go into identifying who they're going after so there are no mistakes. They looked through research, files, and surveillance. The team members carefully reviewed the two cases and got ready to head out. They prepared for every eventuality.
We drove to where the undocumented convicted sex offender was staying and we waited. Then other team members spotted what they called the target. The man they put in handcuffs was convicted of sexually assaulting two girls – ages 11 and 12 – years after a federal judge ordered him to be deported.
Despite his record, the officers treated him and his companion respectfully with a minimum of physical force. They even changed his handcuffs to a belly chain. Agents said that was so he would be more comfortable on the ride to the detention center.
More than two hours into the stakeout the team spotted the second target – another convicted sex offender who attacked a physically and mentally disabled woman in a facility where he was the custodian. Agents initiated another car stop, a tactic they prefer to door knocks.
this was not some random arrest. It was part of a targeted enforcement action against convicted criminals. In this case, a sex offender. They took him back to a holding cell before he was to be sent back to the country he left.
Since the Trump administration took office, deportation officers are now allowed to go after undocumented suspects who are arrested and not convicted of serious crimes. Agents insisted to me that they do not do raids or random roundups in immigrant communities in the New York region and that everyone they take into custody has had more than a few days in court before federal judges.
During the first half of 2017, the federal deportation officers arrested approximately 1,679 undocumented convicted criminals.