ICE ar­rests 28 in Md.

Na­tion­wide sweep ap­pre­hends hun­dreds in ‘sanc­tu­ary’ ar­eas

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Rec­tor

Fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials say 28 peo­ple were ar­rested in Mary­land dur­ing a na­tion­wide sweep that tar­geted im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions in "sanc­tu­ary" ju­ris­dic­tions.

U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment said the four-day op­er­a­tion ended with 498 peo­ple taken into cus­tody across the coun­try.

The agency ini­tially said all 28 Mary­land ar­rests oc­curred in Baltimore, but that was not the case, Carissa Cutrell, an ICE spokes­woman, said Fri­day. Five were ar­rested in Baltimore, one was ar­rested in Baltimore County, 11 in Prince Ge­orge’s County and 11 in Mont­gomery County, Cutrell said.

All 28 in­di­vid­u­als were de­tained on civil im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions, not crim­i­nal charges, which pre­cludes ICE from iden­ti­fy­ing them pub­licly, Cutrell said.

El­iz­a­beth Alex, re­gional di­rec­tor for the im­mi­grant ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion CASA Mary­land, crit­i­cized the sweep, call­ing ICE’s name for it —“Op­er­a­tion Safe City” — a “mis­nomer.”

“Baltimore knows that the way we keep our com­mu­ni­ties safe is by be­ing a wel­com­ing com­mu­nity to immigrants, and by en­cour­ag­ing our fam­i­lies to feel com­fort­able call­ing po­lice,” Alex said. “Try­ing to up­lift this nar­ra­tive that immigrants are

crim­i­nals is re­ally counter to what we in Baltimore know, what we see ev­ery day in Baltimore — that immigrants are our neigh­bors, our chil­dren and the par­ents at our schools.”

The ar­rests in­cluded 15 in­di­vid­u­als who do not have le­gal sta­tus in the U.S. or were vi­o­lat­ing the terms of their sta­tus, six in­di­vid­u­als who were de­fy­ing court or­ders to leave the coun­try; and seven in­di­vid­u­als who had pre­vi­ously been re­moved from the coun­try and sub­se­quently re-en­tered, ICE con­firmed Fri­day.

One woman de­tained is a cit­i­zen of El Sal­vador who en­tered the U.S. on a fraud­u­lent pass­port, ICE said in a news re­lease. The state­ment says the woman was pre­vi­ously con­victed on charges of first­de­gree as­sault and was re­leased from de­ten­tion in Mary­land be­fore ICE made the ar­rest.

Two men from El Sal­vador were also among those de­tained, Cutrell said. Both had re-en­tered the coun­try af­ter hav­ing been pre­vi­ously re­moved, she said. One has pend­ing crim­i­nal charges for driv­ing while in­tox­i­cated and as­sault, but Cutrell said she could not say in what ju­ris­dic­tion.

Cutrell said oth­ers among the 28 ar­rested in Mary­land had pend­ing crim­i­nal charges as well, but she could not say how many. Eleven of the 28 have past crim­i­nal con­vic­tions, she said. Na­tion­wide, ICE said 317 of those ar­rested had crim­i­nal con­vic­tions.

None of the Mary­land ar­rests oc­curred at jails, Cutrell said. All were in the com­mu­nity.

ICE says the op­er­a­tion fo­cused on cities and re­gions that limit their co­op­er­a­tion with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials con­duct­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“Sanc­tu­ary ju­ris­dic­tions that do not honor de­tain­ers or al­low us ac­cess to jails and pris­ons are shield­ing crim­i­nal aliens from im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment and cre­at­ing a mag­net for il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion,” ICE Act­ing Di­rec­tor Tom Ho­man said in a state­ment. “As a re­sult, ICE is forced to ded­i­cate more re­sources to con­duct at-large ar­rests in these com­mu­ni­ties.”

Baltimore of­fi­cials have re­sisted the “sanc­tu­ary” la­bel, not­ing that the poli­cies im­plied by that term are set by the state of Mary­land. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, which has made crack­ing down on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion a pri­or­ity, has sent mixed mes­sages on whether it con­sid­ers Baltimore a sanc­tu­ary city.

Mary­land de­clines to hold immigrants in jail be­yond their sched­uled re­lease. But the state does alert ICE about cer­tain immigrants be­fore it sets them free, al­low­ing fed­eral agents to pick them up out­side the jail. Not all ju­ris­dic­tions do that, and the Jus­tice De­part­ment has un­til now been more fo­cused on those that don’t.

Mary­land At­tor­ney Gen­eral Brian Frosh has is­sued an opin­ion that hon­or­ing ICE re­quests to hold in­di­vid­u­als sus­pected of im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions for up to 48 hours af­ter they’re sched­uled to be re­leased could vi­o­late those in­di­vid­u­als’ con­sti­tu­tional rights.

Mayor Cather­ine Pugh, who has con­tin­ued other im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies set by her pre­de­ces­sor, has called Baltimore a “wel­com­ing” city for immigrants. Un­der an ex­ec­u­tive or­der by then-Mayor Stephanie Rawl­ings-Blake in 2012, city po­lice do not ask peo­ple they in­ter­act with about their im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus. How­ever, Pugh’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has said that Baltimore is not a “sanc­tu­ary city” and can­not be one be­cause the state, not the city, con­trols the jail.

The jail is run by the Mary­land De­part­ment of Pub­lic Safety and Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices. Repub­li­can Gov. Larry Ho­gan has said the state com­plies with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion re­quests but the cor­rec­tions de­part­ment has of­fered a more nu­anced ex­pla­na­tion of its pol­icy.

Still, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has pre­vi­ously crit­i­cized the ap­proach to en­force­ment tak­ing place in Baltimore, specif­i­cally cit­ing the state’s jail poli­cies. Baltimore State’s At­tor­ney Mar­i­lyn J. Mosby, mean­while, has in­structed lo­cal pros­e­cu­tors to think twice be­fore charg­ing il­le­gal immigrants with mi­nor, non­vi­o­lent crimes given the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s steppedup en­force­ment ef­forts.

The dif­fer­ences came to a head last month when Baltimore Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Kevin Davis called “per­plex­ing” a U.S. De­part­ment of Jus­tice sug­ges­tion to the city that fed­eral crime-fight­ing as­sis­tance for a new pro­gram called the Na­tional Pub­lic Safety Part­ner­ship was con­tin­gent on lo­cal poli­cies for im­mi­grant de­tainees.

In an Aug. 2 let­ter to Davis, Act­ing As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Gen­eral Alan Han­son had posed three ques­tions about city statutes and whether they pro­vide U.S. De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials with ac­cess to and in­for­ma­tion on im­mi­grant de­tainees in Baltimore. Davis noted that the jail is con­trolled by the state, and said link­ing crime as­sis­tance for Baltimore to im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies was “con­cern­ing” and “sends the wrong mes­sage” to im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties.

“Pub­lic safety de­pends on all com­mu­ni­ties, re­gard­less of im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus, hav­ing trust in law en­force­ment,” Davis wrote at the time. “With­out this trust, immigrants may be less likely to com­mu­ni­cate with the po­lice, re­port crimes, or seek as­sis­tance upon be­com­ing a vic­tim.”

Baltimore po­lice said Fri­day morn­ing that they are not privy to ICE in­ves­ti­ga­tions un­less asked to as­sist, and were not in­volved in the re­cent sweep.

Pugh on Fri­day re­leased a state­ment say­ing that she could not com­ment on the in­di­vid­ual ar­rests, but that her ad­min­is­tra­tion “main­tains its com­mit­ment to ed­u­cat­ing im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties about their rights,” and be­lieves peo­ple “with le­git­i­mate claims to re­main in the United States should not be de­nied ac­cess to due process be­cause of mis­in­for­ma­tion or be­cause they can­not af­ford proper rep­re­sen­ta­tion.”

Clau­dia Cubas, se­nior pro­gram di­rec­tor for the de­tained adult pro­gram at the Cap­i­tal Area Immigrants’ Rights Coali­tion, said her or­ga­ni­za­tion was scram­bling Fri­day — along with other or­ga­ni­za­tions like CASA Mary­land and the ACLU of Mary­land — to lo­cate the ar­restees at lo­cal jails with ICE con­tracts, so that they can visit with the immigrants and ar­range pro bono at­tor­neys for them.

Cubas said her group is “sad­dened and dis­tressed” by the tar­get­ing of immigrants in cities that have ex­pressed sup­port for immigrants, but also fo­cused on the “corner­stone of our ser­vices, which is to iden­tify folks, to de­ter­mine what their claims for re­lief are, and to get them rep­re­sen­ta­tion.”

Aside from the ar­rests in Baltimore, ICE said it made ar­rests in Philadel­phia (107), Los An­ge­les (101), Den­ver (63), Mas­sachusetts (50), New York (45), Port­land, Ore. (33), Cook County, Illi­nois (30), Santa Clara County, Calif (27); and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. (14).

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