ICE immigration agents arrested 105 people in New Jersey in a five-day operation, despite state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal ordering local, county and state law enforcement to limit their cooperation with federal immigration police.
The sweep, led last week by the agency's Enforcement and Removal Operation, was already planned prior to the Grewal's directive, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stated in an announcement.
"These outstanding results, which were made possible by our officers and law enforcement partners, highlight the tremendous commitment that ICE ERO has to public safety throughout the state," John Tsoukaris, Field Office Director of ERO Newark, said in a prepared statement. "Our focus has been and will continue to be on arrests of illegal aliens who have been convicted of serious crimes or those who pose a threat to public safety."
Were criminals included?
ICE estimated that 80 percent of those arrested last week had either previous criminal convictions or pending criminal charges. The arrests included 24 in Hudson County, 10 in Midldesex County, 14 in Monmouth County, four in Bergen County, 11 in Passaic County, and 6 in Essex County.
"ICE will of necessity have to conduct additional enforcement operations if local police departments and county jails do not refer criminals and gang members they encounter to ICE for review and possible arrest on immigration violations," according to a statement by the agency.
Carlos Rojas Rodriguez, a community organizer for Movimiento Cosecha, a group that supports more rights for undocumented migrants, said he believes the new arrests were connected to the directive.
"It is a shame that while the new AG is trying to create trust between the immigrant community and law enforcement, the ICE director John Tsoukaris is trying to destroy that trust and criminalize immigrants across the state," Rodriguez told NorthJersey.com.
Seth Kaper-Dale, co-pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park, reported an increase in requests from a hotline it runs for an organization called DIRE, which stands for Deportation and Immigration Response Equipo, the news agency reported.
"The DIRE line usually rings three to four times a month," Kaper-Dale said. "Right now, it's ringing more than five a week."
Where are they from?
Among those arrested were citizens of Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Korea, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Taiwan, Trinidad, and Venezuela.
Others include a 59-year-old man from Korea who lives in Palisades Park who was wanted on a warrant to serve a sentence for distributing psychotropic drugs. Another suspect included a 25-year-old Guatemala male who was arrested on aggravated assault and possession of a weapon charges. He was previously deported by ICE.
At least three of the people arrested were members of street gangs, including one member of MS-13, according to the release. The arrests also included those with prior convictions for extortion and bank fraud, distribution of narcotics on school grounds, promoting prostitution with a child, and child endangerment.
All of the arrests are listed in the agency's news release.