Dozens of people–many from Mexico and Central America–were arrested in New Jersey by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last week, in a five-day operation that officials on Tuesday said was targeted at “criminal aliens” and those charged with immigration violations.
ICE said most of those arrested, who ranged in age 20 to 71 years old, had prior felony convictions.
“As part of this operation, we continue focus on the arrest of individuals who are criminal and are a threat to public safety and national security,” said John Tsoukaris, who heads ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in Newark.
Nationwide, arrests under the Trump Administration of immigrants here illegally have jumped 40 percent in the fiscal year, according to figures recently released by the government. ICE refused to disclose the total of arrests it has made in New Jersey since January. A spokeswoman directed a reporter to file a Freedom of Information Act request for the data.
Among those arrested last week included 18 nationals of the Dominican Republic, 15 from Mexico, eight from Honduras and seven from El Salvador. Others included individuals from the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Korea, and the Philippines.
Officials offered no breakdown of the charges they faced, other than to report 80 percent of them had prior felony convictions. ICE said those convictions included sexual assault on a minor, possession and distribution of narcotics, DUI, shoplifting, and illegal reentry.
Immigration attorney Harlan York of Newark said the arrests were typical of ICE operations.
“The recent and frequent removals of non-criminal immigrants is a disturbing trend,” he said. “Also, detention without bail of visa overstays is something that appears new.”
Enforcement efforts by ICE have not been without controversy in the state, with New Jersey’s chief justice earlier this year calling on federal immigration officials to stop arresting unauthorized immigrants at state courthouses.
By Ted Sherman for NJ.com
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