The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announced Tuesday the arrest of 101 illegal immigrants, targeting criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants, and immigration violators, and including immigrants convicted of drug- and child-pornography-related offenses.
The arrests were the product of a five-day operation in New Jersey, spearheaded by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). Among those arrested, 88 percent were convicted criminals, and 80 percent had prior felony convictions.
Convictions of those arrested included a Mexican citizen convicted of sexual assault of a minor, a Turkish citizen convicted of possession of child pornography, a Spanish citizen convicted of storing/maintaining child pornography, and a Dominican and Korean citizen both charged with cocaine distribution.
"The continued results of our Fugitive Operations officers and their law enforcement partners underscore ICE’s ongoing and steady commitment to public safety," said John Tsoukaris, field office director of ERO Newark. "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. Because of the tireless efforts of these professional officers, there are 101 fewer criminals in our communities."
The arrests follow ICE's announcement last week that more than 300,000 illegal immigrants were arrested in 2017. Those included over 110,000 administrative arrests by ICE, of which 92 percent were reported to have a criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge, be an ICE fugitive, or be an illegal re-entrant.
"We need to confront and address misguided policies and loopholes that only serve as a pull factor for illegal immigration. We must continue to target violent gangs like MS-13, and prevent them from rebuilding what we have begun to dismantle. Finally, we need to find a solution to the dangerous sanctuary city policies and the politicians who needlessly risk innocent lives to protect criminals who are illegally present in the United States," said acting ICE director Tom Homan last week.
As ICE made its announcement on Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Session brought the problems of illegal immigration and transnational drug gangs to public attention at an address in Baltimore alongside new Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
"Since 9/11, we have prosecuted more than 500 people for terrorism-related offenses, and preliminary figures suggest that nearly 75 percent of those defendants were foreign born," Sessions noted.
"The president is exactly right to call attention to these issues and to how they affect our security. In just the last two months, we've seen two terrorist attacks in New York City carried out by men who were here as a result of failed immigration policies," he said.
Sessions pointed to policies like the so-called diversity lottery and "chain migration"—whereby immigrants can sponsor non-immediate relatives to immigrate as well—as being responsible for permitting allowing in terrorists like the would-be attacker in New York, as well as the perpetrator of October’s deadly truck attack, also in New York. The ending of chain migration and the lottery are a top priority of some Senate Republicans’ immigration priorities.