ICE is Using the Pandemic to Raid Homes and Detain Illegal Immigrants?



From the closure of immigrant detention centers to more foreign worker visas and relief funds for illegal aliens, there is little immigrant activist groups have not demanded because the global health crisis. Yet, according to the blazing headline of a recent article, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is “using COVID-19 as an excuse to raid homes and detain undocumented people.”

The author, Britini de la Cretaz, certainly knows ICE does not need an ‘excuse” to detain illegal immigrants as it is a critical component of its mission, but mentioning that would undermine the tale she is telling readers of Refinery29, a self-described “global media company focused on women.”

In the opening sentence, de la Cretaz claims that ICE is “once again executing large-scale enforcement actions against undocumented immigrants” but to make it sound as if pursuing criminal aliens was a new development is misleading. In fact, ICE issued guidance after lockdowns were instituted stating that it would continue to pursue violent criminal aliens or those with deportable offenses beyond being in the nation illegally.

While she does link to the ICE press release detailing the recent enforcement sweeps which took place nationwide in July and August, she does not include any details illuminating who was arrested and why. If she had, her readers would know the kind of threat ICE is removing from communities, including immigrant communities.

The September 1 announcement says that between July 13 and August 30 agents apprehended more than 2,000 illegal aliens who were deemed removable due to their criminal records. Frankly, they are the kinds of criminals that no one would think twice about arresting if they were U.S. citizens. Of those arrested, 85 percent had criminal convictions or pending charges against them and more than 1,000 had a connection to their victim.

There were convictions for assault (388), domestic violence (291), sexual offenses (83), family offenses, including abuse of a child (136), and sexual offenses involving a minor (79) – and those did not include pending charges.

In speaking to sweeps made in his region, John Fabbricatore, the field director for ICE’s office in Denver, said they “focused specifically on those who may have suffered disproportionally during the pandemic. We specifically targeted our enforcement actions at abusers and helped victims by eliminating the threat posed by their perpetrators.”

So, protecting abused mothers and children – who more than likely are also illegal immigrants – now constitutes exploitation of a pandemic.

“Let’s not lose sight of the fact that there are some abusive people living in our communities who should not be here. By focusing our efforts on these abusers, we’re doing our part to help families during this pandemic,” he continued.

To state that targeting those who abuse women and children is seen by some as an ‘excuse” to “raid homes” of “undocumented immigrants” is beyond dishonest, particularly since the enforcement actions are not new.

Enforcement actions specifically seeking to detain violent criminal illegal aliens are commonly referred to as a national “Cross Check” operation. The largest took place in 2012, well before either the pandemic or the Trump administration. Not surprisingly, there was little press coverage at the time.

“Cross Check” operations, have been normal practice since 2009, and one of the largest sweeps took place nine years ago this month. That operation, according to a 2011 ICE press release, took place over just one week during the Obama administration. It was promoted as part of the “administration’s ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators,” and resulted in the arrest of nearly 3,000 “convicted criminal aliens.”

In her gross effort to add more grist to the anti-immigration enforcement mill, de la Cretaz paints over the serious issue of domestic abuse that has become far more serious during the pandemic, according to sources from medical literature to, well, articles written in her own publication about the rise in domestic violence and child abuse.

About Author

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Jennifer joined FAIR as Web Content Writer in 2017 and brings to the role extensive communications and media background. She began her career as a policy research analyst on multiple national and state political campaigns before entering journalism. In addition to spending over a decade writing for several broadcast and print news outlets, Jennifer directed communications strategy for a member of Congress and a military nonprofit.

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