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ICE prepares targeted arrests in “sanctuary cities”, reinforcing the theme of the president’s campaign

Chad Wolfe, acting secretary of the Homeland Security, is likely to travel to at least one of the jurisdictions where the operation will take place to reinforce President Trump’s claims that leaders in those cities have failed to protect residents from dangerous criminals. said two officials.

During his presidency, Trump fought against the jurisdictions of the sanctuaries and expanded those attacks to include Democrat mayors in cities confused by racial justice demonstrations and sporadic riots following the assassination of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The immigration operation would be in sync with two themes in Trump̵

7;s re-election campaign: his crackdown on immigration and his pressure to insult cities led by Democrats, whom he accuses of crime and violence.

Two officials who know about the sanctuary’s plans describe it as a political communications campaign rather than a major ICE operation, noting that the agency already concentrates on immigrant offenders with criminal records and arrests them regularly without much fuss.

ICE officials have repeatedly warned cities and counties to consider sanctuary policies that the agency will send more agents to make arrests in their jurisdictions, no less if they move forward with their plans.

“We are not commenting on any sensitive law enforcement issues that could adversely affect our employees and the public,” ICE spokesman Mike Alvarez said Tuesday in response to questions about the planned attacks. “However, every day as part of routine operations, U.S. immigration and customs enforcement targets and arrests foreign criminals and others who have violated our country’s immigration laws.”

Alvarez said jurisdictions that do not cooperate with ICE increase risks for agents and the public.

“Generally speaking, as ICE has noted for years, in jurisdictions where cooperation does not exist and ICE is not allowed to take custody of aliens from prisons, ICE is forced to arrest criminal aliens outside the community instead of under a safe. in prison, ”he said.

Cities and jurisdictions with asylum policies that avoid or prohibit coordination with the ICE usually refuse to keep immigrants in prison longer than necessary for ICE staff to take them into custody. Such cities also do not help ICE by checking the legal status of suspects who have been arrested or detained for minor offenses.

ICE agents working in sanctuary jurisdictions can still take on the arrest of suspected immigration offenders, but without local cooperation, they face the additional challenge of finding out when these individuals will be released from prison and do not have the advantage of coordinated surrender.

Policies adopted in many of the country’s largest cities have a significant impact on ICE operations, limiting the number of potential deportees who can be easily detained.

According to the latest statistics, 70 percent of ICE’s arrests occur after the agency has been notified of an impending release of an immigrant from prison or state prison. Since 2019, ICE has filed more than 160,000 such “detainees” with local law enforcement, the agency said.

The sanctuary’s policies have also worsened the gap with what ICE calls “aliens and fugitives that ICE is trying to detain,” according to the agency.

Officials in global jurisdictions say their policies maintain community confidence in immigrant neighborhoods, where employees need residents to report crimes and cooperate with local authorities without fear of deportation.

The Trump administration has periodically threatened to conduct operations targeting sanctuary cities, including a plan to transport migrants from the border and release them to San Francisco and other Democratic-run jurisdictions. The president also threatened to deprive governments of federal funding.

Last year, White House officials called for a “family operation” targeting migrant parents with children, but that effort did not yield the volume of arrests Trump sought. The president advised on the operation by tweeting it. Some ICE officials privately attribute the compelling results of the operation to Trump’s boasting and indiscipline.

After learning about previous operations, undocumented immigrants in many cities go deeper underground, fearing they may be arrested and deported, while their children – sometimes US citizens – will be abandoned.

The idea of ​​a campaign to publish criminal arrests in sanctuary jurisdictions has been circulated many times during the Trump administration, two officials said, and was being actively considered this spring before the coronavirus pandemic. Following the outbreak, the ICE postponed some of its implementation plans, citing health risks, while the agency’s arrests fell by about a third, statistics show.

The decision by then-acting director Matt Albens was popular with ICE officials, who were worried about exposing their families to the new coronavirus, but Trump administration officials were annoyed and wanted the president to be able to participate in a strict enforcement campaign, according to ICE and DHS officials who did not want to get involved in the White House. Albens retired last month.

Alexei Voltornist, a spokesman for DHS, said the department “does not comment on or confirm alleged expired operational plans.”

On Monday, the ICE announced a dozen arrests in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, where voters elected a sheriff in 2018, which limited the jurisdiction’s cooperation with the ICE. This campaign was prominently featured in the Netflix documentary series Immigration Nation.

In a statement, ICE spokesman Henry Lucero said the agency “cannot stand idly by as long as it knows that society is misled about the role ICE plays in protecting public safety.”

“The fact is that local policies prohibiting agencies from working with ICE put you at risk and waste police resources,” Lucero said. “The public must hold its leaders accountable and want to know what type of criminals are being released from local arrests instead of being handed over to the ICE.”

The ICE said six of those arrests included immigrants with criminal convictions wanted for deportation, a decision that allows them to “commit crimes until they are captured.”

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