ICE arrests 2,000 immigrants in largest sweep of the pandemic

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Tuesday that it made more than 2,000 arrests during a six-week nationwide operation in July and August that focused on those with criminal convictions and charges, but also led to the arrests of some undocumented immigrants with clean records.

As part of the operation, ICE agents made “at-large” arrests, which could take place at residences, worksites and traffic stops, across the country, including in large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, where the ICE field office apprehended the most immigrants. ICE said the operation targeted undocumented immigrants and others subject to deportation who had been charged or convicted of a crime involving a victim.

Roughly 85% of those arrested had criminal convictions or charges ranging from assault and sexual offenses to domestic abuse and robbery, ICE said. Henry Lucero, the executive associate director of ICE who’s in charge of apprehensions, detention and deportations, said the rest of those arrested include immigrants who were ordered deported by an immigration judge but did not leave, those previously deported who had reentered the U.S. and so-called collateral arrests.

The agency announced in March that it would focus on apprehending those with certain criminal records and those deemed to pose a threat to public safety during the coronavirus pandemic. Asked by CBS News how the recent arrests of immigrants without convictions or charges conformed with that announcement, Lucero offered a clarification of the so-called “enforcement posture.”

“We never said we were going to stop arresting individuals,” Lucero said in a call with reporters. “We said we were going to prioritize and focus on those that are public safety threats. And that’s exactly what we did during this operation.”

Lucero reiterated that the enforcement posture, which he said is still in place, does not exempt immigrants without criminal records from enforcement actions.

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