The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency says officers from its Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) have arrested a number of Caribbean nationals among 58 individuals during an operation spanning the New York metropolitan area, targeting criminal immigrants.
ICE said on Wednesday that the foreign nationals arrested during the operation comprised citizens of 17 countries, including Trinidad and Tobago; the Dominican Republic; Belize; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Guyana; and Jamaica.
Other nationals included the Philippines; Indonesia; Guatemala; Ecuador; Mexico; El Salvador; Lebanon; Colombia; Israel; Romania; and the United Kingdom.
ICE did not disclose the names of the nationals, but said that, during the five-day enforcement action, ERO officers apprehended immigrants with criminal convictions, in addition to others who fall under the agency’s enforcement priorities.
Those arrested had criminal histories with past convictions for rape, kidnapping, robbery, burglary and other serious criminal offenses, ICE said.
“Law enforcement operations like this underscore that ICE is committed to putting public safety first,” said Raymond Simonse, acting field office director for ERO New York.
“Our nation has a proud history of immigration, but we are also a nation governed by laws specifically designed to protect our citizens and residents,” he added. “Those who come to the United States to prey upon our neighbors and communities will be prosecuted for their crimes and ultimately returned to their home countries.”
ICE said those who are not being criminally prosecuted will be processed administratively for removal from the United States.
The arrestees who have outstanding orders of deportation, or who returned to the United States illegally after being deported, are subject to immediate removal from the country, ICE said.
It said the remaining individuals are in ICE custody awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge, or pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future.
ICE said all apprehended during the operation were “immigration enforcement priorities,” as outlined in the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson’s 2014 memorandum.
ICE said Priority 1 targets include threats to national security, criminal street gang members, convicted felons, and aggravated felons.
Priority 2 targets include individuals with convictions for three or more misdemeanors, or convictions for significant misdemeanors, including driving under the influence (DUIs), ICE said.
“As Secretary Johnson has stated repeatedly, our borders are not open to illegal migration,” ICE said. “If someone was apprehended at the border, has been ordered removed by an immigration court, has no pending appeal, and does not qualify for asylum or other relief from removal under our laws, he or she must be sent home.
“We must and we will enforce the law in accordance with our enforcement priorities,” it stressed.