Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Thomas Homan has vowed to crack down on sanctuary jurisdictions, particularly California. In mid-February, two enforcement operations in Los Angeles and Texas resulted in the arrest of 357 illegal aliens.
Estimates indicate that California has by far the largest number of illegal immigrants of any state. The state has declared itself a sanctuary state in defiance of federal immigration laws. In response, Homan has been forced to focus large-scale operations in California.
In just three days toward the end of February, ICE agents arrested over 150 illegal aliens in a separate operation in Northern California. Half of those arrested had additional criminal convictions on their record, including assaults, crimes against children, DUIs, and weapons charges.
The report states that in fiscal year 2017, ICE arrested 20,201 aliens in California; 81 percent of them were convicted criminals.
The Northern California operation attracted additional controversy when the Mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf, warned illegal aliens that ICE was preparing an operation in the area. Homan commented that the results of this warning made the operation even more dangerous for the ICE agents involved:
The Oakland mayor's decision to publicize her suspicions about ICE operations further increased that risk for my officers and alerted criminal aliens — making clear that this reckless decision was based on her political agenda with the very federal laws that ICE is sworn to uphold.
He suggested that the operation's success was likely diluted by Schaaf's announcement as well: "864 criminal aliens and public safety threats remain at large in the community, and I have to believe that some of them were able to elude us thanks to the mayor's irresponsible decision." Given that many of those arrested had criminal convictions, it is concerning that a public official would go out of her way to help criminal aliens avoid arrest.
Nonetheless, this operation did arrest a significant number of criminal aliens. Further, it demonstrates that ICE is committed to continuing major enforcement activity in cities and states that attempt to circumvent federal immigration law.