Last night John brought up the series of ICE raids around the country this week which netted roughly 500 illegal aliens. Named “Operation Safe City” by the agency, the specific areas targeted for enforcement were quickly highlighted by critics as being liberal enclaves (sanctuary cities) which have been vocally opposing the President’s immigration enforcement agenda. Those accusations show up frequently in the Washington Post’s coverage of the operation. But as we’ll see in a moment, the actual rationale for this strategy is far more basic and reality based.
The Trump administration has arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in cities that are hostile to the federal government’s deportation crackdown, the latest salvo in a growing battle over so-called sanctuary jurisdictions.
Federal officials said Thursday that “Operation Safe City” specifically targeted some of the fiercest opponents of President Trump’s immigration policies, including New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Washington D.C.
In all, 498 immigrants, including 28 in Baltimore and 14 arrests in the District, were taken into custody in a four-day operation that ended Wednesday, officials said. Just under two-thirds of those arrested had criminal records in the United States.
The WaPo goes on to describe the raids as being, “a provocative move.” For their part, the ICE representative commenting on the operation simply said, “If we need to go into these locations every week, we will go into these locations every week to remove these public safety threats.”
The major kvetching coming from the media is clearly focused on the choice of locations for the raids. I won’t deny that there was almost certainly a message being delivered here by the administration in response to the lawlessness of the sanctuary cities, but there’s a second factor at play which should be fairly obvious. ICE has stated repeatedly that the only reason they need to do these types of raids out on public streets, at private homes, businesses or courthouses is because they are being denied the far easier option of picking up the illegal aliens when they are already safely in custody. You don’t need to worry about tracking someone down or having them start a shootout with you if you’re picking them up from a jail cell.
In other words, there was far less of a need for raids in cities where law enforcement honors ICE detainers because they were already able to do their jobs without all this fuss and muss. The cities in question were being “targeted” because that was the only way they could catch the bad guys. If the locals had been helping ICE in the first place there would be no need for Operation Safe City.
So how effective was it? In Massachusetts, primarily in Boston and Cambridge, 50 illegal aliens were taken into custody. Of those, 30 had criminal records while 20 did not. Baltimore saw 28 people taken into custody including one woman wanted for attempted murder. Baltimore has had more than their fare share of problems lately, including one recent case where two illegal immigrants kidnapped a teenage girl from in front of her boyfriend’s house, took her to an empty apartment building and raped her for hours.
The San Francisco area yielded 27 arrests, with 23 of those having prior criminal records. Among the latter was a male previously arrested for sexually assaulting a child. The city producing the most arrests was Philadelphia, with 107.
In each city, ICE put out similar statements to the press, explaining that they wouldn’t have needed to do this if local officials would simply honor their detainers and turn over the illegal aliens when requested. The local news in the stories linked above almost universally complained that some of those taken into custody didn’t have criminal records. The only response to that nonsensical complaint is… so what? Those individuals were certainly considered to be a lower priority than the more hardened criminals, but simply being “lower priority” doesn’t mean you have immunity. If you’re here illegally you can be apprehended and deported. It’s as simple as that.
I don’t expect Operation Safe City to force any of these Democratic strongholds to suddenly see the light and being cooperating. But if nothing else, they’ve received a rather blunt reminder that ICE is still on the job and won’t be staying away just because of some state or local ruling about being a “sanctuary.”