ICE Planning Arrests in Sanctuary Cities

Katriona Page, Contents/Copy Editor

Late last month, U.S. government officials reported that the Trump administration plans to make several rounds of arrests in sanctuary cities beginning October 2020 through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The first cities targeted would be located in California, then later include Denver and Philadelphia, according to The Hill. These rounds of arrests, formally called the Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation, have been nicknamed “sanctuary op.”

Sanctuary cities have policies and laws that protect immigrants from ICE by preventing local law enforcement from communicating or otherwise cooperating with ICE for example, sanctuaries will not check the citizenship status of individuals arrested for minor crimes, and will not keep immigrants in jail longer than their sentence, making it harder for ICE to track them down. 

Generally speaking, as ICE has noted for years, in jurisdictions where cooperation does not exist and ICE is not allowed to assume custody of aliens from jails, ICE is forced to arrest at-large criminal aliens out in the communities instead of under the safe confines of a jail,” ICE spokesman Mike Alvarez told The Washington Post on Sept. 29.

ICE has quietly but consistently arrested and deported undocumented immigrants throughout Trump’s presidency. According to officials, however, these October arrests are being made more high-profile to show the public that Trump is carrying through with his campaign promises; in 2016, Trump assured potential voters he would implement more aggressive immigration restrictions and deportation measures. 

“We do not comment on any law enforcement sensitive issues that may adversely impact our officers and the public,” Alvarez said. “However, every day as part of routine operations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement targets and arrests criminal aliens and other individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws.”

The officials added that Chad Wolf, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, will most likely visit the cities targeted to support Trump’s statements that government leaders in those cities have not adequately protected their citizens from undocumented immigrants. Leadership in said cities skews Democratic. 

Cities with sanctuary policies are believed to be necessary because they build a sense of trust between law enforcement and undocumented immigrants, helping immigrants feel comfortable reporting crimes without fear of deportation. However, ICE has repeatedly stated they will send more, not fewer, officers to these areas to compensate for the lack of cooperation.

Last year, the Trump Administration attempted a “family op,” where ICE officials targeted immigrants with children rather than individuals in specific cities. However, Trump tweeted about the operation, giving families enough time to prepare and seek safety, and the operation did not lead to mass arrests as hoped.

Trump has come under fire for his handling of immigration before, as in 2019, thousands of children were separated from their parents at the Mexico-U.S. border as part of Trump’s Zero Tolerance policy.