April 17, 2018 By Tara Law
A 56-year-old East Elmhurst resident with multiple criminal convictions was among 225 immigrants arrested in a 6-day crackdown by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Queens residents were among the immigrants rounded up in a six-day initiative the agency is referring to as “Operation Keep Safe in New York,” which centered on New York City, the Hudson Valley, and Long Island.
Of the 225 immigrants arrested, 180 had criminal convictions or pending charges, according to ICE. More than 80 had been issued a final order of removal from the U.S. or had returned to the U.S. after being deported.
Thomas R. Decker, New York field office director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, attacked New York City’s sanctuary city policy in a statement issued Tuesday, arguing that the City is protecting criminals.
“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,” said Decker. “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.”
Among the people captured was a 56-year-old East Elmhurst resident. The man, a Haitian national, has prior convictions of second degree manslaughter, tampering with physical evidence and fourth degree criminal possession of a weapon.
A 38-year-old Jamaica resident, who is a Jamaican national, was also arrested. The man was previously convicted of sexual abuse in the first degree for sexual contact with a child who is less than 14 years old.
ICE declined to release the men’s names or to give any further details about the roundup.
In the past year, critics have condemned the agency for increasingly targeting undocumented immigrants without criminal records.
Last week, lawyers from the Legal Aid Society of New York and Queens Law Associates staged a walkout at Queens Criminal Court to protest ICE’s detentions of two undocumented immigrants at the courthouse.
In Tuesday’s press release, ICE claimed that New York’s sanctuary city policies are responsible for compelling the agency to conduct mass arrests, arguing that the policy has become necessary as the police have begun releasing people from jail instead of turning them over to ICE.
“ICE has no choice but to continue to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community,” ICE said.