Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested 65 people on Long Island and in New York City this month for alleged immigration violations — nearly all of whom had been previously removed from the country and returned illegally, agency officials announced Wednesday.
Among those arrested in "Operation Cross Check" during a 5-day period ending Friday were 48 individuals with criminal convictions for offenses such as sexual abuse, forcible touching, cocaine trafficking, identity theft, weapons possession and assault, the agency said in a statement.
The arrests include 10 people in Suffolk County, in Bay Shore, Brentwood, East Hampton, East Patchogue, Greenport, Riverhead, Shirley, Southampton, Southold and Westhampton Beach, ICE spokeswoman Rachael Yong Yow said. Agents also made three arrests in Nassau, in Uniondale, Roosevelt and Westbury, she said.
The 13 individuals arrested on Long Island were all previously removed from the country, Yong Yow said.
Anyone who returns to the United States illegally after being deported is subject to immediate removal from the country, the agency said.
Thomas Decker, field office director for ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations team, said agents continue to "enforce immigration laws as they have always done, targeting criminal aliens and removing them from our streets" despite calls from some Democratic officials to abolish the agency because, they argue, it has unfairly targeted immigrants with no criminal record.
"The rhetoric is copious, blurring the lines of fact versus fiction," Decker said in a statement. "But despite all the criticism, our officers continue to work daily with professionalism and integrity, enforcing the law as set forth by Congress.”
Among those arrested in Brooklyn was a 41-year-old Mexican national who has been removed from the country on six previous occasions and who has past convictions for aggravated identity theft, criminal mischief and DWI, the agency said.
A 42-year-old Jamaican national, released from NYPD custody with an active detainer and who has convictions for menacing and possession of more than four pounds of marijuana, was arrested in the Bronx as was a 35-year-old Salvadoran national with convictions for sexual abuse, officials said.
In total, 29 individuals — all from New York City — arrested by ICE during the operation were previously released from local law enforcement custody with an active detainer, officials said. ICE places detainers on individuals who have been arrested on local criminal charges and who are suspected of being eligible for deportation.
"In years past, most of these individuals would have been turned over to ICE by local authorities upon their release from jail based on ICE detainers," the agency said. "Now that many sanctuary cities, including New York City, do not honor ICE detainers, these individuals, who often have significant criminal histories, are released onto the street, presenting a potential public safety threat."
Matt Dhaiti, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio's Office of Immigrant Affairs, said, "Overbroad enforcement against immigrant New Yorkers does nothing to make us safer. New York City will work with federal partners in the interest of public safety, but not to be an arm of immigration enforcement.”
The arrestees include nationals from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico and Ukraine.
Six individuals will be prosecuted in U.S. District Court and three by the U.S. Attorney's Office. The rest will be processed for removal from the country, the agency said.