ICE To Initiate Enforcement Action In Sanctuary Jurisdictions

( Sanctuary cities are soon to be the target of an operation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A Washington Post report, quoting U.S. officials, said the operation could begin sometime this week. It’s reported that California will be the target of the initial operation, with follow-ups planned for Philadelphia and Denver.

The officials cited in the Post report said this campaign, dubbed a “sanctuary op,” is more about political messaging than a major ICE operation. The agency consistently focuses on violators of immigration policy, especially those with criminal records. Arrests made by ICE usually don’t make big headlines.

Sanctuary jurisdictions simply don’t cooperate with federal officials on immigration cases. ICE and other federal agencies are not prohibited from going into these jurisdictions to make arrests, but they can’t expect any cooperation or help from the local government.

These local governments normally refuse to hold people in jail any longer than the law requires as ICE agents come to take them into custody. The jurisdictions also won’t check the legal status of people who are detained for minor offenses.

Under the Trump administration, ICE officials have let jurisdictions that have sanctuary policies in place know that additional agents would be sent in to make arrests.

A spokesman for ICE, Mike Alvarez, told the Post:

“We do not comment on any law enforcement sensitive issues that may adversely impact our officers and the public. However, every day as part of routine operations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement targets and arrests criminal aliens and other individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws.

“Generally speaking, as ICE has noted for years, in jurisdictions where cooperation does not exist and ICE is not allowed to assume custody of aliens from jails, ICE is forced to arrest at-large criminal aliens out in the communities instead of under the safe confines of a jail.”

This makes the job of ICE much more difficult, as 70% of the arrests the agency makes happen after the agency has been notified of an immigrant’s pending release from prison or jail.

According to ICE, the sanctuary policies have deepened a backlog of “at-large criminal and fugitive aliens ICE seeks to apprehend.”

On Monday of this week, ICE announced the agency had arrested more than 12 people in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. The county sheriff’s office didn’t cooperate much at all with the agency in that case.

Six of the arrests that were made on Monday were of immigrants who had criminal convictions and were wanted on violations of immigration policy. According to ICE, the sanctuary policies of the North Carolina county made these people “free to reoffend until their capture.”

Henry Lucero, an official for ICE, told the Post the agency “cannot stand by idly while knowing the public is being misled about the role ICE plays in keeping the public safe.

“The fact is local policies prohibiting agencies from working with ICE put you in danger and waste police resources. The public should hold its leaders accountable and demand to know what type of criminals are being released from local custody instead of turned over to ICE.”