The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency arrested 37 criminal illegal aliens in Middlesex County, New Jersey, on Monday during a five-day sweep of the area.
ICE officials arrested 37 illegal aliens — including 16 illegal aliens released from the Middlesex County Jail — in a five-day operation last week in Middlesex County, and they criticized county officials for implementing sanctuary policies, ICE officials in the agency’s Newark office announced Monday.
ICE officials asked the jail to hold the illegal aliens until federal immigration officials could pick them up, but the jail ignored ICE’s request and released the migrants without consulting ICE, NJ.com reported.
“Middlesex County, which aspires to be a ‘sanctuary county’ by protecting criminal aliens, in the process assists criminals in undermining federal law, and creates a dangerous environment in the community,” Ruben Perez, acting field office director of Enforcement and Removal Operations in the agency’s Newark office, said in a statement.
Even though Middlesex County officials implemented a policy last year that would limit the county’s cooperation with the federal immigration agency, the officials denied the county’s “sanctuary” status in a statement to NJ.com:
To the contrary, Middlesex County has adopted a policy regarding interaction with ICE by county corrections and sheriff’s department personnel which provides that the county will honor a detainer request from ICE if the inmate has previously been convicted of a first or second degree offense or was the subject of a Final Order of Deportation signed by a federal judge. By honoring these detainer requests the county has as its primary goal the protection of the public safety of our residents.
Under Middlesex County’s policy, county authorities can refuse to honor ICE requests to hold inmates suspected of being in the country illegally for two days unless they have committed first or second-degree felony offenses — meaning the jail could choose to release the inmates unless ICE obtains an order from a federal judge.
The 37 criminal illegal aliens arrested by the immigration enforcement agency last week were either accused or convicted of a number of crimes — including sexual assault, theft, and endangering the welfare of a child. Officials said the people apprehended by authorities came from 13 different countries — including Brazil, Peru, India, Mexico, and Turkey.
Despite the actions of some counties to enforce sanctuary policies, ICE arrests have increased in New Jersey. Federal data shows that ICE had arrested 3,189 illegal migrants in the state in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 — a 42 percent increase from 2016.