NEW YORK – Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested hundreds of people in less than a week in New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley.
About 80 percent of the 225 people taken into custody during Operation Keep Safe in New York had prior criminal convictions or had charges pending for offenses including child sex crimes, weapons charges and assault, officials said.
Enforcement and Removal Operations Field Office Director Thomas Decker criticized local law enforcement in New York City, which is a sanctuary city, saying ICE faced problems in making the arrests.
“ICE continues to face significant obstacles with policies created by local officials which hinder cooperation between ICE and local law enforcement,” Decker said.
“Yet, with the tireless efforts of the men and women of ICE, this operation was a great success. The fact is that a so-called ‘sanctuary city’ does not only provide refuge to those who are here against immigration law, but also provides protections for criminal aliens who prey on the people in their own communities by committing crimes at all levels.”
The arrests were made in a six-day period in early April, officials said. ICE has ramped up their activities since President Donald Trump took office. Some of the hundreds arrested will face federal criminal prosecutions and others may be subject to immediate removal from the country.
ICE took a 56-year-old Haitian national with a manslaughter conviction into custody in East Elmhurst. Officers arrested several registered sex offenders and people with convictions for raping or sexually abusing minors. One person arrested, a 36-year-old man living in Manhattan, was wanted in the Dominican Republic on murder charges.
“Ultimately, efforts by local NYC politicians have shielded removable criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and created another magnet for more illegal immigration, all at the expense of the safety and security of the very people it purports to protect,” an ICE spokesperson said.
“Despite the severe challenges that local policies have created for ICE, we remain committed to our public safety mission and we will continue to do our sworn duty to seek out dangerous criminal aliens and other immigration violators.”
NYPD officers were told in January not to voluntarily cooperate with most federal immigration enforcement activities going forward following criticism over officers’ roles in arrests made during a protest. At the time, Mayor Bill de Blasio said police officers and city employees would not be “a part of a federal deportation force.”
A spokesperson for his Office of Immigrant Affairs reinforced that idea following news of the 225 arrests.
“New York City will work with federal partners in the interest of public safety, but not to be an arm of immigration enforcement,” spokeswoman Rosemary Boeglin said.