The family of an illegal immigrant arrested during a recent roundup of criminal aliens seems shocked that immigration laws are being enforced.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested Miguel Angel Torres, an illegal immigrant living in Austin, Texas, for the past fourteen years, during the recent Operation Cross Check roundup of criminal aliens. It appears immigration officers arrested Torres while they were looking for his brother-in-law, a previously deported illegal alien, the Texas Tribune reported.
“[My husband] is a person who’s never done anything wrong and who complies with the law,” Irma Perez, the wife of the illegal immigrant, told the Texas news outlet. “We don’t know why they detained him. He was driving his own car, not my brother’s. He has nothing to do with my brother.”
Texas law does not allow a person who does not have legal status in the U.S. to obtain a driver license or legally operate a motor vehicle.
Perez, who admitted she is also an illegal immigrant, said her husband drove to their daughter’s school to deliver a Valentine’s Day box of chocolates. Agents who stopped Torres asked if he was Jose Manuel Perez, his wife’s brother. It appears officers checked his identity and learned he was in the country illegally and placed him in custody.
Operation Cross Check is a law enforcement action planned to round up criminal aliens and process them for removal proceedings. While the operation targets criminals, gang members, and others who violate immigration laws, ICE officials acknowledged that non-criminals could be caught up in the net.
“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 written statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “Those persons will be evaluated on a case by case basis and, when appropriated, arrested by ICE.”
In this case, it appears the ICE officers were searching for Perez’ brother, Jose Manuel Perez, an illegal alien she admitted had been previously deported. She did not say why he had been deported, or how many times he faced deportation.
When ICE officers stopped Torres, they asked if he was Perez. Irma Perez said she believe the officers had followed Torres from their home to the school. She believed they might be staking out her home because she had provided her address to law enforcement officials when she paid off her brother’s traffic fines.
Perez’ immigration lawyer Mark Kinzler told the Texas Tribune reporter, “They were looking, apparently, for someone else, and he wasn’t that person, but then they took him anyway.” He seemed to expect that immigration officers would just ignore the law when they found out Torres was illegally present in the U.S.
“Even though ICE’s PR campaign is that they’re picking up criminals and picking up people with prior deports, and I’m sure some of them are, it already seems like a lot of them are not those people,” Kinzler continued. “People who work every day and try to take care of their families are getting swept up.”
The targeted immigration enforcement operation picked up 51 foreign nationals in the Austin area during the two-day action, Breitbart Texas reported. At least 23 of those arrested had criminal convictions. Those included a Mexican national previously deported following a conviction for aggravated assault; a Salvadoran national who pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a child; and another Mexican national convicted of domestic violence as a repeat offender, information obtained by Breitbart Texas from ICE officials revealed. In addition to criminal aliens, the officers were also targeting those with pending court-ordered removal status and those who had been previously deported, like Perez, and known to be back in the country.
Breitbart Texas Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief Brandon Darby contributed to this article. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.