ICE Enforcement in New Jersey Targets Sanctuary City Releases

Share of criminals among arrested aliens is in line with recent trends

By Preston Huennekens on July 17, 2018

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 37 aliens in Middlesex County, N.J., during a targeted enforcement operation. Middlesex County is identified by the Center for Immigration Studies as a known sanctuary jurisdiction.

The operation specifically targeted aliens who were released by the Middlesex County Jail without honoring the detainer notices provided by ICE. By ignoring these detainers, Middlesex County Jail knowingly released dangerous criminal aliens back into the community. ICE has stated before that at-large arrests are more dangerous to both officers and aliens alike.

In Middlesex County's case, 16 aliens were arrested who had been released from the jail despite an active detainer notice. The remaining 21 aliens were either other known criminal aliens or collateral arrests.

The arrested aliens hailed from 13 different countries, mostly in Central and South America: Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, India, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Turkey. Their crimes included everything from DUIs and theft to more egregious cases such as domestic violence assaults and sexual crimes.

In the first half of FY 2018, 66 percent of all ICE arrests have been of convicted criminals. This contradicts the claim that ICE officers are going out of their way to arrest illegal aliens who have not committed serious felonies. More than two-thirds of all arrests are still of criminal illegal aliens, who remain the main priority for immigration enforcement according to an April 2017 memo from the Justice Department.

Publicly available data shows that the current share of non-criminal arrests is actually in line with historical totals. The table below shows the latest available information on ICE's FOIA library tracking administrative arrests by criminality. FY 2017 data is available in that year's Enforcement and Removal Operations Report.

Fiscal Year Criminal Non-Criminal Total Share
FY17 105,736 37,734 143,470 73.70%
FY16 94,751 15,353 110,104 86.10%
FY15 101,880 17,892 119,772 85.10%
FY14 134,734 48,969 183,703 73.30%
FY13 168,444 63,843 232,287 72.50%
FY12 171,925 93,648 265,573 64.70%
FY11 167,195 121,197 288,392 58.00%
FY10 143,082 129,302 272,384 52.50%
FY09 115,867 182,031 297,898 38.90%

In fact, the first term of the Obama administration (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012) had a lower share of criminal arrests than FY 2018 under the Trump administration. This indicates that while the priority enforcement categories have expanded, the actual share of criminal arrests has remained largely similar.

For the first half of FY 2018, of the remaining individuals not previously convicted of a crime, 23 percent were either immigration fugitives or had illegally re-entered the United States after a previous deportation, according to the ICE press release.

This adds to the growing list of enforcement actions targeting sanctuary cities this year. In June, enforcement actions resulted in over 500 arrests. As sanctuary jurisdictions continue to defy federal immigration enforcement ICE will be given no choice but to continue large-scale enforcement operations like this most recent one in Middlesex County.