U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced it made more than 2,000 arrests in a six-week operation targeting migrants living in the United States with criminal histories amid the coronavirus pandemic.
ICE agents arrested the “at-large individuals” nationwide between July 13 and Aug. 20 due to their criminal histories consisting of charges involving victims, the federal agency said in a release on Tuesday.
“The aliens targeted during this operation preyed on men, women and children in our communities, committing serious crimes and, at times, repeatedly hurting their victims,” said acting ICE Director Tony Pham.
According to ICE data, about 85% of those arrested on immigration charges during the operation also had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges.
Henry Lucero, the executive associate director of ICE, said the remaining 15% arrested were ordered to leave the country by an immigration judge but failed to do so, those who were deported and re-entered the United States and those who were considered collateral arrests.
“By focusing our efforts on perpetrators of crimes against people, we’re able to remove these threats from our communities and prevent future victimization from occurring,” Pham said. “Through our targeted enforcement efforts, we are eliminating the threat posed by these criminals, many of who are repeat offenders.”
In Los Angeles, where agents made 300 arrests, a 44-year-old Mexican national was apprehended who had re-entered the United States after having been deported following convictions of inflicting corporal injury to a spouse and willful cruelty to a child, among a slew of other charges.
In south Texas, where 125 arrests were made, agents apprehended a 47-year-old Mexican national who was convicted of statutory rape in 1995.
Under the operation, agents also made 122 arrests in Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Montana; and 63 arrests in Colorado and Wyoming. The locations of the remaining arrests were not released.
The arrests follow the agency announcing in March that it would stop performing arrests of individuals who had neither committed a crime nor pose a risk to the public until the end of the coronavirus pandemic.
Asked about the arrests of migrants without convictions or charges, Lucero said that the agency never said it would stop making such arrests only that they were shifting priority to those who posed a public threat.
“We never stated we’re … going to stop arresting any type of immigration violator,” he said in a call with reporters. “We continue to arrest immigration violators. We use discretion when appropriate. That will remain in effect until further notice.”
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