As the weekend’s roundup of criminal aliens winds down, immigration advocates continue to spread fear mongering messages laced with false information about the routine operation.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement Removal Operations (ERO) agents routinely execute targeted criminal alien roundup operations. In May 2015, Breitbart Texas reported 2,059 criminal aliens were rounded up during Operation Cross Check.
ICE agents targeted 1,000 of the captured criminal aliens because they had felony convictions, officials reported. Those range from voluntary manslaughter, child pornography, robbery, kidnapping, and rape. Fifty-eight of those captured were known gang members, while 89 were convicted sex offenders.
In December, another targeted roundup netted 71 more criminal aliens in jail — including illegal immigrants with criminal convictions of drug trafficking, DUI, weapons violations, fraud, domestic violence, and burglary.
Similarly, a September roundup landed 36 more criminal aliens in jail. Operation Safe Nation and Operation No Safe Haven III rounded up 17 illegal immigrants who were thought to pose a public safety threat and 19 suspected of human rights violations in other countries, according to information provided by ICE officials to Breitbart Texas.
“These are existing, established fugitive operations teams,” ICE officials reported on Monday. “ICE does not conduct sweeps, checkpoints or raids that target aliens indiscriminately.”
Despite these regularly occurring targeted roundup operations, immigration activists continue to spread false information about government retaliation and broad sweeping immigration operations. ICE officials called these rumors, speculation and false reporting “dangerous and irresponsible.”
The agency is not detaining huge numbers of people in Austin, Denise Gillman told the Austin American-Statesman. She operates the University of Texas Immigration Clinic. “They’re making their presence known, driving around immigrant neighborhoods.”
“It seems to me it’s intended to send a message that this is a crackdown, this is a new administration, and there will be more enforcement actions in immigrant neighborhoods,” she said.
Gillman appears oblivious to statements made by ICE officials that this weekend’s operation was planned well in advance of the new administration’s taking office and that targeted immigration operations such as this occur on a regular basis.
“They’re secretive about who’s being targeted,” Gillman continued. “That is probably a function of ICE saying they’re targeting only specific individuals with criminal histories and prior deportation orders. But other people are getting picked up, and that’s where you see the reluctance of the agency” to explain exactly who is being arrested, she told the Statesman.
Again, ICE had no reluctance to explain this point.
“During targeted enforcement operations ICE officers frequently encounter additional suspects who may be in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws,” ICE officials said in a widely reported statement on Monday. “Those persons will be evaluated on a case by case basis and, when appropriate, arrested by ICE.”
Austin City Councilman Greg Casar added to the fear and false information about the operation by claiming the enforcement action was retaliation for standing up against President Donald Trump’s immigration plans.
“I believe ICE is out in public arresting people in order to retaliate against our community for standing up for our values against people like Abbott and Trump,” Councilman Casar posted on Facebook. “Trump and his allies will do everything they can to divide Americans, invoke fear in vulnerable neighborhoods, and demonize an entire community of people.”
POLITICO also piled onto the fear mongering stating, “Trump just getting started with immigration raids.” The sub-headline continues, “The president granted himself sweeping authority to step up deportations, and he’s poised to use it.” This, despite the fact that the president’s authority on immigration enforcement comes from Congress and the Constitution.
The left-of-center news outlet continued, calling the criminal alien roundup a “so-called ‘targeted enforcement operation.'”
“About three-fourths of those arrested were immigrants who had been convicted of crimes ranging from homicide, aggravated sexual abuse and drunken driving,” POLITICO reported. The rest were picked up for various immigration violations, such as illegally reentering the country after being removed. The outlet ignored the fact that many of those illegally reentering the country after removal were violent sex offenders and drug traffickers.
The fear mongering continued as immigration attorney David Leopold told POLITICO, “When you read that executive order, there is no other conclusion that you can draw except that everybody is a target. Everybody,” Leopold said. He formerly served as president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “It’s carefully couched in terms of prioritizing criminals, but it’s designed to encourage and allow ICE agents to pick up anybody they can get their hands on.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) falsely claimed the arrests were “targeting law-abiding immigrants.”
Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian responded to the fear mongering, calling the comments “hysterical” and “almost comically exaggerated,” POLITICO reported.
Retired ICE Special Agent Claude Arnold put things in perspective.
“The priorities are still going to be the same priorities, criminals first,” he told POLITICO. “But what the president’s executive order did do, it returned discretion to arrest and not to arrest to the line-level officer. … If they encounter someone who’s here illegally, they have the authority and discretion to arrest them, period.”