A five-day raid throughout New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley rounded up 118 undocumented immigrants, including many Queens residents, Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) officials announced on Tuesday.
The arrests took place between Jan. 14-18. According to ICE, more than 107 of the individuals arrested were convicted criminals or had criminal charges pending, while 55 were a final order of removal and failed to depart the United States, or had been previously removed from the United States and returned illegally.
Among the arrested, officials say, included a Peruvian national in Corona who is a registered sex offender and was convicted of forcible touching; two registered sex offenders in Kew Gardens, both Honduran nationals, that were convicted of sexual misconduct; and an Ecuadorian national in Flushing who had been convicted of bail jumping, criminal facilitation, disorderly conduct, grand larceny and attempted grand larceny.
ICE did not release the names of those taken into custody.
According to ICE, the arrested individuals all had criminal histories covering a number of crimes, including assault, grand larceny, drug possession and sexual abuse. Officials say that more than 35 of the people who were arrested, including those mentioned above in Queens, had been previously released from local law enforcement on an active detainer.
“The success of this operation is a direct result of the full commitment of the dedicated men and women of ICE,” said Thomas R. Decker, field office director for ERO New York. “In spite of the significant obstacles that ICE faces due to the dangerous policies created by local jurisdictions, which hinders the cooperation between ICE and local law enforcement, ICE will continue to devote the full efforts of our agency to protecting citizens and enforcing federal immigration law despite challenges being pursued by politically motivated individuals.”
According to ICE officials, in years past, many of the individuals would have been turned over to ICE upon their release from local custody. However, ICE officials say that now that many sanctuary cities, including New York City, do not generally turn over undocumented, formerly incarcerated immigrants to ICE as a policy.
However, local organizations and politicians are speaking up against ICE following this recent raid.
“We have seen time and again that ICE’s statements contain lies, exaggerated charges and mischaracterizations of people’s records in an attempt to justify their unconstitutional and immoral raids,” said Alisa Wellek, executive director of the Immigrant Defense Project. “ICE fans the flames of hate by demonizing any immigrant with a criminal record, ignoring their humanity. Many people targeted have an offense from years earlier, already served any sentence, and have since rebuilt their lives.”
“Queens is the most diverse borough in the country and ICE has no place in our community. In any city, but especially in a sanctuary city like New York, ICE’s presence is unacceptable,” said state Senator Jessica Ramos. “It is my job as their representative to fight for undocumented people and ensure that families can stay together. This is one reason I am introducing the one-day bill, which will shorten the sentencing for misdemeanors by just one day, so that undocumented people do not enter ICE deportation proceedings after they have paid their debt to society. I will do everything I can to protect undocumented people because they are an integral part of New York City’s workforce, they make up my community, and they are my neighbors.”
Mark Hallum contributed to this story.