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ICE hails nearly 200 immigration arrests in Pa.

Written by Joel Shannon/York Daily Record | Mar 16, 2017 6:37 AM
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FILE PHOTO: In this Feb. 9, 2017, photo provided U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE agents at a home in Atlanta, during a targeted enforcement operation aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens. (Bryan Cox/ICE via AP)

A release from ICE says the raids were targeted at apprehending "criminal aliens, immigration fugitives, re-entrants, and other immigration violators."

(Undated) -- Federal immigration officials arrested nearly 200 people in Pennsylvania between Feb. 27 and March 10 as a part of a multi-state operation.

A release from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says the raids were targeted at apprehending "criminal aliens, immigration fugitives, re-entrants, and other immigration violators."  Some of those arrested were not targeted but were found to be in violation of federal immigration laws, according to ICE.

About half of those arrested had been convicted of an offence or have charges pending against them. ICE listed anecdotes of drug-related offences, sexual assault and repeat DUIs, but provided no details of specific cases or individuals.

ICE officials report 248 people were arrested in total: 197 in Pennsylvania, 42 in West Virginia, 8 in Delaware and 1 in New Jersey. Some of those who were arrested have been detained at the York County prison, one of four ICE detention facilities in Pennsylvania.

At the direction of ICE, the York Daily Record has filed a Freedom of Information request for a regional breakdown of the arrests.

Immigration advocate Sundrop Carter was quick to note that many arrested by ICE are not dangerous criminals.

Carter, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, also said that immigrants facing charges are innocent until proven guilty.

ICE's acting Enforcement and Removal Operations Field Office Director in Philadelphia focused on public safety in her remarks: "ICE Officers make extraordinary efforts to keep our communities safe ... This operation resulted in multiple arrests of individuals with violent criminal arrests," Jennifer Ritchey said in a release.

Carter had a different characterization of those arrested: "These are just regular people who go to church, go to school, go to work," Carter said. "Most of them, the only violation they have on their record is entering the country without talking to border patrol."

Some of those arrested had previously been removed from the United States and illegally reentered. Eighteen were fugitives from a judge's removal order.

Carter also expressed concern that under the Trump administration ICE enforcement has been increasingly lacking oversight, calling enforcement raids "punitive" and "mean-spirited."

These arrests were part of routine, daily operations, according to the ICE news release. It also notes that sweeps or checkpoints were not used and are not a part of their enforcement procedures.

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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