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October 20, 2020New York, NY, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

New York’s sanctuary city policy leads to increased ICE activity, dozens of arrests throughout metropolitan area

NEW YORK – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement Removal Operations (ERO) officers completed an immigration enforcement activity, which resulted in the arrest of 54 immigration violators throughout the New York City Metropolitan Area, and the neighboring counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Dutchess, Ulster and Westchester.

The nationwide, weeklong immigration enforcement activity, which concluded Oct. 9, focused on targeting and arresting individuals in sanctuary cities.

“ICE continues to protect communities by taking criminal aliens off the streets regardless of any locality’s cooperation policies – which is part of our congressionally mandated mission,” said ICE Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director Tony H. Pham. “Officers and agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are sworn federal law enforcement officers who enforce U.S. immigration laws created by Congress to keep this country safe.”

Individuals arrested in New York were citizens and nationals from the following countries: China, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Grenada, Guyana, Honduras, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, Moldova, Mozambique, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and St. Lucia.

The New York arrests included charges filed for assault, sexual assault against a child, lewd and lascivious acts upon a child, rape and criminal possession of a loaded firearm. Other charges include criminal possession of stolen property, driving while intoxicated, robbery and grand larceny.

“Let us not gloss over the fact that the vast majority of the individuals arrested during this operation have criminal histories. It’s frightening that New York City politicians created laws that force local law enforcement agencies to release dangerous criminals back into the community despite the seriousness of their crimes,” said Thomas R. Decker, ICE ERO New York field office director.

Of the more than 50 individuals ERO officers arrested, more than 30 were released from local law enforcement custody with active ICE detainers; eight had outstanding removal orders; eight were previously removed or deported; five were criminally prosecuted; two were active gang members, and one was a foreign fugitive. All but two of the individuals arrested had criminal histories in the U.S.

All individuals arrested during the immigration enforcement activity will remain in ICE custody pending the outcome of their removal proceedings before an immigration judge.

ICE officially announced the results of the enforcement activity on Oct. 16, but one Manhattan resident’s arrest garnered considerable media coverage in New York prior to the announcement.

On Oct. 8, during an at-large arrest in Manhattan, ICE took custody of 48-year-old Fernando Santos-Martinez, an unlawfully present Mexican national who was removed from the U.S. on three separate occasions in 2003.

Despite a detainer lodged by ICE, the New York Police Department released Santos-Martinez from custody following his Sept. 11 arrest for assault, attempted assault, attempted gang assault, criminal possession of a weapon and harassment. His local charges are currently pending.

Following Santos-Martinez’s arrest, news organizations falsely reported claims of ICE officers misidentifying themselves as NYPD – an accusation that ICE leadership vehemently deny.

“NYPD should have been empowered to turn Santos-Martinez over to ICE officers in a controlled environment back in September,” said Decker. “His arrest was inevitable, but had local politicians and media organizations abstained from promoting false accusations, the confusion could have been avoided. ERO officers are brave and honest professionals. They work tirelessly to gather information and conduct investigations to remove dangerous criminals from our communities. Before denigrating ICE officers, I encourage city officials to consider the repercussions of their sanctuary city policies.”

In an Oct. 13 statement, Pham wrote that ERO officers use the term "police" to quickly identify themselves as law enforcement officers because it is a universally recognized symbol of law enforcement in most cultures. The statement goes on to explain that the use of the term is important because ICE officers often interact with individuals who are often not native English speakers.

Pham encouraged local officials to reconsider the policies which prohibit local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with ICE, suggesting that non-compliance with ICE detainers will likely lead to increased ICE enforcement activity.

“ICE has no choice but to conduct more at-large, targeted enforcement actions [to] achieve its congressionally mandated mission,” Pham wrote. “This means that the agency is likely to encounter other unlawfully present foreign nationals that wouldn’t have been encountered had we been allowed to take custody of a criminal target within the confines of a local jail.”

About Detainers

ICE relies on the exchange of information with its law enforcement agency partners to access foreign-born inmates at local, state, and federal facilities, and the use of detainers as part of its public safety mission. In many cases, these individuals pose a demonstrable threat to communities.

By lodging detainers against those individuals, ICE makes every effort to ensure that removable aliens are turned over to ICE custody after their criminal detention rather than being released into the community where many abscond or re-offend.