September 28, 2017
Federal immigration officials arrested 107 undocumented immigrants living in Philadelphia during a four-day operation that targeted sanctuary cities, where local law enforcement agencies are not complying with federal immigration orders.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement teams arrested 498 individuals from 42 countries as part of a national operation dubbed "Safe City." More individuals were arrested in Philadelphia than in any of the other nine municipalities where the operation took place.
The operation was carried out in cities and regions where ICE officers are denied access to prisons to interview suspected immigration violators. They also were held in jurisdictions where ICE detainers are not being honored.
The "Safe City" operation ended Wednesday.
The Trump administration has taken a hard stance against sanctuary cities, claiming they leave violent criminals on the streets.
"Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration," ICE acting Director Tom Homan said in a statement. "As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities."
Proponents of sanctuary cities, like Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, say sanctuary policies create trust between police and immigrants, who otherwise might be afraid to report crimes.
"As I've stated many times, when our immigrant communities cannot trust law enforcement, they are less likely to want to work with them to fight crime," Kenney said in a statement. "Operation 'Safe City' does not make our city safer and further sows seeds of distrust between our police and immigrants."
Enforcement and Removal Operations teams, run by ICE, also arrested individuals in six other cities – Baltimore; Denver; Los Angeles; New York; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, D.C. The operation also took place across Massachusetts and in Cook County, Illinois, and Santa Clara County, California.
"Safe City" targeted people who violated federal immigration law, with priority given to individuals with criminal convictions, pending criminal charges or known gang membership. Immigration fugitives and people who re-entered the United States after being deported also were targeted.
Immigrants who are covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were not targeted, according to ICE.
Nationwide, the individuals arrested included 317 people with criminal convictions, 68 immigration fugitives and 104 people who had previously been deported. An additional 18 people were known gang members.
Among those taken into custody in Philly was a man from the Dominican Republic who had entered the United States illegally and previously had been convicted of a firearms offense. He had been released from local custody before ICE could assume custody, ICE officials said.
"ICE's goal is to build cooperative, respectful relationships with our law enforcement partners to help prevent dangerous criminal aliens from being released back onto the streets," Homan said. "Non-cooperation policies severely undermine that effort at the expense of public safety."
Some of the arrested individuals will be prosecuted for illegal entry and illegal re-entry and removal, according to ICE officials. Others will be processed administratively for deportation. Anyone with an outstanding order of removal is subject to immediate deportation.