By Bill Parry
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removal teams arrested nearly 200 people in New York City — including 40 in Queens — during a six-day sweep the agency called “Operation Keep Safe.”
A 56-year-old Haitian national was picked up in East Elmhurst, having been convicted on charges of second-degree manslaughter, tampering with physical evidence and possession of a weapon, according to ICE, and a 57-year-old Jamaican man was arrested in Jamaica who had been convicted on charges of first-degree sexual abuse, but was on a conditional discharge when ICE agents arrested him.
On Tuesday, ICE announced that the sweeps were carried out on the streets of Queens and the rest of the city because “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.”
ICE went on to explain that in years past, most of these individuals would have been turned over to ICE by local authorities upon their release from jail based on ICE detainers but those are no longer honored in sanctuary cities, including New York City.
“ICE continues to face significant obstacles with policies created by local officials which hinder cooperation between ICE and law enforcement. Yet, with the tireless efforts of the men and women of ICE, this operation was a great success,” New York Field Office Director for Enforcement and Removal Operations Thomas R. Decker said. “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. ICE is committed to enforcing the immigration laws set forth by Congress with integrity, despite the push-back and rhetoric within the city they serve.”
City Hall dismissed ICE’s premise, insisting that public safety and security is not being sacrificed and New York City has reached record-low levels of crime and has the highest number of immigrant residents in the last century. When Mayor Bill de Blasio came to Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Corona in November, 2014, to sign laws that dramatically reduced the city’s cooperation with ICE deportations, he explained it was federal immigration crackdowns, especially mass deportations, that undermined public safety.
“Our city is not served when New Yorkers with strong ties in the community are afraid to engage in law enforcement because they fear deportation,” de Blasio said.
The city does voluntarily cooperate with requests from federal immigration enforcement when provided with proper documentation and an individual has been convicted of a serious or violent felony within the last five years, or is on the terrorist watch list.”
Rosemary Boeglin, spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said, “New York City will work with federal partners in the interest of public safety, but not to be an arm of immigration enforcement.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr