U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement completed a six-day operation that led to the arrest of 225 people, including several Queens residents.
The agency conducted Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) from April 9 through April 14 in New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley.
According to ICE, more than 180 of those arrested were convicted criminals or had criminal charges pending. More than 80 had been issued a final order of removal and failed to leave the United States, or had been previously removed from the United States and returned illegally.
In East Elmhurst, agents arrested a 56-year-old Haitian man who was convicted of second-degree manslaughter, tampering with physical evidence and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He served an undisclosed amount of time in prison and ICE officers arrested him after his sentence had already been served.
A 57-year-old Jamaican man was arrested in Jamaica who was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse. He was on a conditional discharge when ICE arrested him.
The agency “focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security” but no longer exempts “classes or categories” of immigrants from enforcement, it said.
On April 10, ICE agents arrested a man after his scheduled court appearance at Queens County Criminal Court in Kew Gardens, according to AMNY. The agency arrested two other men in Bronx County Hall and Kings County Criminal Court that week.
Attorneys with the Legal Aid Society staged a walkout outside of Queens County Criminal Court to protest ICE’s presence in New York courthouses. District Attorneys for the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn have called on the agency to stop these arrests, arguing that their presence discourages witnesses from coming forward.
“They can’t go there without fear of getting arrested,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance at a press conference in February. “That means critical witnesses and victims in cases don’t proceed with important prosecutions, and New Yorkers are less safe because of it.”
Thomas R. Decker, field office director for ERO New York, said New York “provides refuge” to immigrants who have committed crimes.
“ICE continues to face significant obstacles with policies created by local officials which hinder cooperation between ICE and local law enforcement. Yet, with the tireless efforts of the men and women of ICE, this operation was a great success,” 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.”
According to the nonprofit, Immigrant Defense Project (IDP), between January 2017 and March 2018, ICE has arrested 23 Queens residents in or around Queens courts. IDP data shows that in 2016, the agency arrested 11 people in courts throughout New York.
In 2018, 97 arrests were made in New York City courthouses and 47 arrests were made in courthouses in upstate New York and Long Island.
“The recent ICE raids are a clear illustration on the ongoing, and escalating, attack on our communities by the Trump administration,” said Yatziri Tovar, spokesperson for Make the Road New York. “Make no mistake: this is about tearing apart families who have lived here for many years, with no regard for their deep ties to our communities and enormous contributions to New York City and state.”