UPDATE, February 14, 2017, 8:08amET: ICE has revised its San Antonio memo. The original memo stated 28 immigration arrests, but a new updated memo now says 51 immigration arrests. The story has been revised to reflect this update.
In a statement released Monday afternoon to the public, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested “more than 680 individuals” in recent enforcement actions across the country.
“ICE officers in the Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York City areas of responsibility arrested more than 680 individuals who pose a threat to public safety, border security or the integrity of our nation’s immigration system,” Kelly said in the statement. “Of those arrested, approximately 75 percent were criminal aliens, convicted of crimes including, but not limited to, homicide, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual assault of a minor, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, indecent liberties with a minor, drug trafficking, battery, assault, DUI and weapons charges.”
In addition to the statement, ICE also released a series of five memos (all embedded below), specifically detailing the actions under each of the urban areas listed in Kelly’s statement. The total number of arrests added together in the five memos was 678, and not every memo listed who had criminal convictions and who didn’t.
Here is the top-line breakdown from each of the ICE memos about specific areas:
Chicago Area (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Kansas and Missouri): 235 individuals arrested. Of the 235, 163 had criminal convictions. ICE also said that “60 had been previously removed from the United States and subsequently illegally re-entered” while “another 12 were immigration fugitives with outstanding final orders of removal issued by a federal immigration judge.”
Los Angeles Area (Los Angeles and surrounding areas): 161 individuals arrested. Of the 161, 151 had criminal convictions. In this memo, ICE did not include additional information about the other 10 individuals who did not have criminal convictions.
Atlanta Area (Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina): 190 individuals arrested. Of the 190, 127 had criminal convictions. It also added that “29 had been previously removed from the United States and subsequently illegally re-entered,” while “17 were immigration fugitives with outstanding final orders of removal issued by a federal immigration judge.” ICE also said that “87 were arrested in Georgia, 84 in North Carolina and 19 in South Carolina.”
New York Area (New York City and surrounding areas): 41 individuals arrested. Of the 41, 38 had criminal convictions. ICE did not include additional information about the other three individuals who did not have criminal convictions.
San Antonio Area (San Antonio and surrounding areas): 51 individuals arrested. Of the 51, 23 had criminal convictions. ICE did not include additional information about the other 28 individuals who did not have criminal convictions.
Each memo also included specific details about a few of the arrests and where those arrested came from. The majority of details featured Mexican or Central American nationals, but the Chicago memo did mention “a citizen of Iraq…with a previous criminal conviction for criminal sexual abuse of a victim unable to consent,” while the Los Angeles memo said it arrested “an Australian national with a conviction for lewd and lascivious acts with a child,” and the New York memo said it had apprehended “a citizen of Jamaica with a criminal conviction for first degree sexual assault of a victim under the age of 11.”
Only one memo (New York) mentioned any specific gang affiliations, as one arrest included “a citizen of El Salvador with a criminal conviction for assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering and self-admitted MS-13 gang member.” The Atlanta memo said that one of the arrests included a “a Mexican national… who is wanted in his home country on charges of homicide and attempted homicide.”
Here are the five ICE memos:
Los Angeles Area
New York Area
San Antonio Area
“President Trump has been clear in affirming the critical mission of DHS in protecting the nation and directed our Department to focus on removing illegal aliens who have violated our immigration laws, with a specific focus on those who pose a threat to public safety, have been charged with criminal offenses, have committed immigration violations or have been deported and re-entered the country illegally,” Kelly added in the statement.
“ICE conducts these kind of targeted enforcement operations regularly and has for many years,” Kelly said. “The focus of these enforcement operations is consistent with the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations teams on a daily basis.”
Word of the increased immigration actions has been spreading since late last week, combined with the national attention from the deportation of Guadalupe García de Rayos, a 36-year-old mother of two who had been checking in yearly with Phoenix’s ICE offices but was sent back to Mexico after her Wednesday check-in, amid community protests.
On Sunday, ICE issued a statement about the current wave of immigration actions, saying that it will also enforce removal orders:
— Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77) February 13, 2017
Immigration activists have reacted strongly to the recent ICE actions, including a protest Monday in Milwaukee as well as protests in Los Angeles and New York the last few days.
On Friday, David Abud, a regional organizer from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, was one of the many immigrant rights leaders who condemned the recent round of arrests:
“We recognize these raids as an effort by ICE and the new administration to sow chaos and intimidate our communities,” Abud said in a statement. “They are attempting to normalize these attacks towards our community and we must be ready, at a moments notice, to mobilize and resist. In the face of these efforts, we will remain vigilant, focused and organized. We are now more than ever emboldened to fight every single deportation and all further attacks on our communities in whatever form they may appear.”
Many immigration rights advocates acknowledge that similar sweeps also happened during the Obama administration, although there is consensus that the latest round of ICE arrests has widened the net:
“We’re hearing that they’re using their powers in a very broad manner,” Atlanta immigration attorney Sarah Owings told The Los Angeles Times on Friday. “It’s not that they’re targeting people who have criminal records. They’re targeting anyone who’s undocumented that they happen to come into contact with. So they’re looking for someone specific, but they’re also asking everyone for their IDs.”
In March of 2015, ICE announced that it had made around 2,000 arrests during Operation Cross Check. Here is what ICE said then:
The 2,059 individuals with prior criminal convictions who were arrested included more than 1,000 individuals who had multiple criminal convictions. More than 1,000 of those arrested had felony convictions, including voluntary manslaughter, child pornography, robbery, kidnapping and rape.
Of the total 2,059 criminals arrested, 58 were known gang members or affiliates, and 89 were convicted sex offenders.
The vast majority of misdemeanor convictions were for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). ICE considers DUI offenders, particularly repeat offenders, to be a significant public safety threat.
In addition to being convicted criminals, five of those arrested were also immigration fugitives who had previously been ordered to leave the country but failed to depart. Also, 476 were illegal re-entrants who had been previously removed from the country. Because of their serious criminal histories and prior immigration arrest records, 163 of those arrested during the enforcement action were presented to U.S. attorneys for prosecution on a variety of charges, including illegal re-entry after deportation, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
In fact, from 2011 to 2015, Operation Cross Check led to about more than 10,000 arrests. The following memo about ICE’s actions in previous years was also shared today:
In all the memos and statements it has made during the sweeps, ICE has stated that it did not set up checkpoints or conduct public raids. However, Fusion reported that “in Los Angeles, at least five officers arrested a man in a parking lot near a Van’s shoe store on Whittier Boulevard. ICE officials were specifically targeting the man they arrested, but in a community that is predominantly Latinx, the scene of a group of officers carrying large guns and wearing vests that read ‘POLICE ICE’ in capital letters is alarming. The arrest Tuesday took place during the day, just two blocks away from an elementary school.” In Austin, an ICE arrest was captured on video.