NEW YORK - Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Tuesday announced that it had arrested more than 2,000 illegal immigrants from 20 countries in a series of operations in July and August -- with the vast majority of those arrested having criminal charges or convictions.
About 85% of the immigrants caught in the operations, which lasted from July 13 through Aug. 20, had pending or criminal convictions -- for crimes that included manslaughter, assault, domestic violence, extortion, robbery and sexual offenses with a minor, the agency said. Many lived in sanctuary cities that forbid law enforcement from honoring detainers issued by ICE.
“The aliens targeted during this operation preyed on men, women and children in our communities, committing serious crimes and, at times, repeatedly hurting their victims,” acting ICE Director Tony Pham said in a statement. “By focusing our efforts on perpetrators of crimes against people, we’re able to remove these threats from our communities and prevent future victimization from occurring. Through our targeted enforcement efforts, we are eliminating the threat posed by these criminals, many of whom are repeat offenders.”
In California, a sanctuary state, a third of those arrests involved illegal immigrants released from jail despite an ICE detainer -- meaning police allowed them to walk free rather than be deported. Sanctuary laws bar local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.
“This decision will not stop ICE from doing its mission, but it will make it more difficult and undoubtedly make it more dangerous for L.A. County residents, with these people being released to potentially reoffend,” Henry Lucero, executive associate director of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), told Fox News.
The L.A. County Sheriff's Department has refused to honor more than 25,000 requests from federal immigration officials to turn over illegal immigrants being housed in its jails, according to data obtained by Fox News.
Examples of those captured in the operations, which spanned 24 cities, include a Mexican man with convictions for inflicting corporal injury to a spouse and willful cruelty to a child as well as two convictions for DUI.
Another man from Honduras was convicted of assault and charged with sex with a child under 13, and a man from Mexico had served 12 years for seven counts of sexually assaulting a child. A migrant from El Salvador, meanwhile, had priors for drugs, DUIs and domestic violence.
So far, ICE’s ERO has arrested 89,393 individuals in fiscal year 2020 compared to 121,086 during the same time frame in fiscal year 2019. ICE has said that operations have been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. In fiscal year 2019, ICE says it arrested illegal immigrants with more than 1,900 convictions and charges for homicide, 1,800 for kidnapping, 12,000 sex offenses and 45,000 assaults.
President Trump has made cracking down on illegal immigrants, as well as the fight against sanctuary jurisdictions, a key part of his presidency and promised last week to continue that stance if reelected in November.
"We will ban deadly sanctuary cities and ensure federal health care is protected for American citizens, not for illegal aliens," he said in his address at the Republican National Convention. "We will have strong borders. And I’ve said for years, without borders, we don’t have a country. We don’t have a country."
Fox News' Louis Casiano contributed to this report.