The Trump administration’s immigration enforcement division arrested hundreds of people in raids across “sanctuary” cities this week in an operation directly targeting communities that are resisting the president’s aggressive deportation agenda, The Guardian reports.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Thursday that it had arrested 498 people in a four-day operation and that it was dedicating more resources to the liberal jurisdictions that limit police cooperation with federal agents.
The raids, which hit major cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, New York and Philadelphia, prompted harsh criticisms from human rights campaigners who said the arrests were cruel and vindictive and would only hurt public safety by disrupting families and instilling fear in communities.
“Persecuting cities because they are following the constitution and making sure they don’t violate people’s rights takes it down to a new level of low,” said David Leopold, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “This makes communities less safe.”
ICE said its “Operation Safe City” arrests targeted people from 42 countries for various federal immigration violations, with a focus on regions that deny deportation officers access to jails and prisons or ignore requests to hold immigrants on behalf of ICE. The agency said it prioritized “aliens with criminal convictions, pending criminal charges, known gang members and affiliates, immigration fugitives and those who re-entered the US after deportation.” ICE said 317 of the nearly 500 people arrested had criminal convictions. (Despite the president push for tougher immigration enforcement, U.S. agents are on pace to deport fewer people in the government’s 2017 fiscal year than during the same period last year, the Washington Post reports.
Trump took office pledging to round up as many as 3 million drug dealers, gang members and other criminals he said were living in the U.S. illegally. As of Sept. 9, three weeks before the end of the 2017 fiscal year, ICE had deported 211,068 immigrants. ICE removed 240,255 people during the 2016 fiscal year.)