Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested 25 people in Colorado as part of a nationwide enforcement operation targeting so-called sanctuary cities ahead of the November election.
More than 170 immigrants subject to potential deportation were arrested in total in Denver, Seattle, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., according to an announcement from ICE and the Department of Homeland Security on Friday.
The Washington Post reported a plan Sept. 29 that would start in California and expand to other cities with “sanctuary” policies, including Denver. It was described as a political messaging campaign.
The weeklong effort Oct. 5-9 focused on immigrants living in the country illegally who were arrested by local police for crimes but then released from the county jails, even though ICE wanted them detained, according to the ICE office for Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Montana. Officials highlighted in a news release the arrests of three Mexican citizens who were previously removed or granted voluntary removals, and the charges they faced or were convicted of, including strangulation, child abuse and felony menacing.
“Local officials continue to let politics get in the way of public safety endangering the very people they say they are protecting,” said John Fabbricatore, Denver field office director, in a statement. “We’ve repeatedly sent our teams into the field to arrest criminals who should have rightfully been handed to us in the safe confines of a jail. Many of these individuals have assault charges and are dangerous to us and the community-at-large.”
Colorado law prohibits local jails and state prisons from holding anyone in jail for civil immigration arrests after they’ve completed a sentence or bonded out.
ICE officials say they 86% of their arrests in fiscal year 2019 were of immigrants living in the country illegally who had been convicted of crimes or were facing charges.
Immigrant rights groups denounced the roundups Friday, calling them a return to “business as usual” by ICE despite the pandemic.
“There is a confirmed outbreak of COVID at their detention center in Aurora. They are targeting essential workers in the midst of a pandemic where they are often the sole breadwinner,” said Josh Stallings, an organizer with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, in a statement. “The agency’s practices are part of the administration’s political theater and only endanger public health.”
One Colorado arrest included that of a father while he was with his 5-year-old daughter, according to CIRC.
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