The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday announced that it had detained 128 illegal immigrants in a five-day operation in California last week, including those with convictions and charges for crimes including murder, child sex offenses and domestic violence.
Operation Rise, conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) between Sept. 28 and Oct. 2 in the Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco areas, nabbed 128 illegal immigrants. Officials said 96 percent of those arrested had convictions or pending charges for crimes including homicide, sexual assault, sexual offenses against children, weapons offenses and domestic violence.
The operations all targeted sanctuary cities, where local law enforcement are restricted in their ability to cooperate with federal law enforcement. That frequently involves ignoring ICE detainers, which are requests that an illegal immigrant about to be released be held until ICE can take them into custody.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf gave the example of a 40-year-old man from El Salvador who was convicted of first-degree murder in 2009, sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. In August, ICE issued a detainer, but it was ignored by the Los Angeles County jail and the illegal immigrant was released into the community. He was arrested in last week's operation.
Wolf tore into those politicians who have enacted or continue to enforce “sanctuary city” policies, which he said puts politics over public safety.
“Instead of fulfilling our shared mission to protect our communities they would rather play politics with the law by enacting so-called sanctuary city policies to the detriment of our country’s safety,” he said.
Advocates of such policies say they can help encourage those in the country illegally to cooperate with law enforcement and prevent crimes, and are also favored by those who see enforcement as cruel.
Wolf rejected the claim that such policies are compassionate: “There is no compassion for the Americans whose lives have been ended or destroyed by these policies, which shield violent criminal aliens at the expense of American lives.”
The Trump administration has vociferously opposed sanctuary policies and has sought to defund those areas that enact them, while repeatedly highlighting heinous cases of illegal immigrants who have been sprung from prison, only to go on and hurt or kill Americans.
Wolf warned sanctuary jurisdictions that the administration would continue to target such areas.
“Our obligation to protect American citizens from illegal aliens who rape, murder and otherwise commit violent crimes against our communities does not stop at the borders of a so-called sanctuary city,” he said.
A source familiar with the operations told Fox News last week that operations were being planned in Denver and Philadelphia, and could potentially include other cities and jurisdictions across the country.
Last month, ICE announced that it arrested more than 2,000 illegal immigrants from 20 countries in a series of operations in July and August -- with the vast majority of those arrested having criminal charges or convictions.
About 85 percent of the immigrants caught in the operations, which lasted from July 13 through Aug. 20, had pending or criminal convictions -- for manslaughter, assault, domestic violence, extortion, robbery, sexual offenses with a minor and other crimes, the agency said.