Commentary: This is just the beginning. Big stuff coming down the pike.
BALTIMORE —Federal immigration authorities said they arrested almost 500 people in raids conducted over four days in 10 locations across the country, including 28 arrests made in Baltimore.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said those arrested come from 42 countries and were arrested on federal immigration violations as part of Operation Safe City, which targeted so-called sanctuary cities.
“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.”
According to ICE, the operation targeted people who violated U.S. immigration laws, particularly aliens with criminal convictions, pending criminal charges, known gang members and affiliates, immigration fugitives and those who re-entered the U.S. after deportation. ICE said active DACA recipients were not targeted for arrest.
ICE said the 28 arrested in Baltimore included a citizen of El Salvador who entered the U.S. illegally on a fraudulent passport, and was previously charged with attempted murder/conspiracy to commit murder and convicted of first-degree assault. She was previously released from local custody before ICE could assume custody.
Earlier this year, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh stopped short of calling Baltimore a sanctuary city, saying she wants immigrants to feel welcome in Baltimore but she’s not using that term. Pugh has said it is a matter of policy that Baltimore police officers are not to ask about a person’s immigration status when they encounter the public.
In August, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to block Baltimore from the Public Safety Partnership. The U.S. Department of Justice wants the Baltimore Police Department to allow unlimited communications between police and federal immigration officials, grant agents access to jails so agents can question immigrants suspected of crimes, and give federal officials 48 hours’ notice before police release an undocumented immigrant from jail.
The city’s stance has been that the jail falls under state control, not city control.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis has said in the past that “Baltimore is a welcoming city. We do not enforce federal immigration laws, but we do honor criminal arrest warrants obtained by federal law enforcement agencies.”