By Kelly Heyboer | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com |
Immigration officials took 105 immigrants and foreign nationals into custody in a five-day operation that included the arrests of several people wanted by Interpol for alleged crimes in their home countries, federal officials said Friday.
The sweep by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in 16 counties in N.J. also targeted immigrants who illegally re-entered the U.S. after deportation and several members of alleged gangs, including MS-13, officials said.
About 80 percent of those arrested had prior criminal convictions, ICE officials said.
“These outstanding results, which were made possible by our officers and law enforcement partners, highlight the tremendous commitment that ICE ERO has to public safety throughout the state,” said John Tsoukaris, field office director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations in Newark. “Our focus has been and will continue to be on arrests of illegal aliens who have been convicted of serious crimes or those who pose a threat to public safety.”
Those arrested will appear before an immigration judge for possible deportation.
Tense relations with New Jersey officials
ICE officials said the operation was pre-planned and not as a result of the New Jersey Attorney General’s directive last week limiting local and state law enforcement cooperation with ICE.
Federal immigration officials have been publicly clashing with some New Jersey law enforcement officials over the attorney general’s new guidelines, which will go into effect in March.
ICE officials warn there will likely be an uptick in arrests of immigrants living in the country illegally in the wake of state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s announcement last week that he is limiting how much local and state police can help immigration officials.
The new rules — which include limiting when police can turn over jailed immigrants to ICE agents — drew a sharp rebuke from federal immigration officials who said New Jersey was creating a “state-sanctioned haven” for unauthorized immigrants.