The operation — which Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said targeted criminals — ended Monday. Nineteen of the arrests were made in King County.
Immigration agents rounded up 84 people — including 60 with criminal records — during a three-day operation in Washington, Oregon and Alaska, authorities said Thursday.
The operation ended Monday and targeted criminals residing in the U.S. illegally, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Seattle field office said in a news release. Those arrested included 77 men and seven women from 12 countries, the vast majority from Mexico. Nineteen had drunken-driving convictions, and 14 had been convicted of assault, sex offenses or domestic violence.
Some will be prosecuted for illegally re-entering the country while the rest face deportation proceedings.
“This operation highlights our commitment to promoting public safety through the pursuit of targeted criminals residing in the U.S. illegally,” Bryan Wilcox, acting field office director of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations in Seattle, said in the release. “Our officers will continue in their efforts to create safer communities by identifying and removing those not willing to comply with U.S. laws.”
Rose Richeson, an ICE spokeswoman, declined to answer questions about the operation.
Nineteen of the arrests were made in King County, which includes Seattle, and 13 were made in Washington County, Oregon. Four were made in Anchorage.
Tim Warden-Hertz, directing attorney in the Tacoma office of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said the organization has seen a doubling of such arrests in King County and other parts of the Northwest in the last two months since President Donald Trump took office in January. Trump pledged to crack down on criminals living in the U.S. illegally.
Warden-Hertz said more than a quarter of those arrested didn’t have criminal histories, and that ICE has a history of overstating the nature of some criminal offenses or using old offenses of people who are living with families and working.
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While the Obama administration also carried out such actions, he said, it feels like there has been a change that has shown up locally.
Among those arrested was Francisco J. Rodriguez Dominguez, a participant in a federal program designed to protect from deportation those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Rodriguez Dominguez was brought to the U.S. from Morelia, in Mexico’s Michoacan state, at age 5.
Last December, he entered a diversion program following a drunken-driving arrest and had attended all his court dates and required meetings, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, which publicized his arrest earlier. The organization suggested it represented an erosion of protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program amid Trump’s call to boost deportations.
ICE said it targeted him because of the DUI. The Department of Homeland Security can terminate DACA status if it determines someone is a risk to public safety.
Richeson said she did not have information on whether anyone else arrested in the operation had participated in DACA. She referred an inquiry to Sharon Rummery, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, who also said she did not have the information.
Also among those arrested, ICE said, was a previously deported Mexican man who had been charged with child rape, and who was recently released from custody by a local jurisdiction despite a detainer request by the agency.
Many jurisdictions in the Northwest refuse to honor such requests after a federal court in Oregon ruled in 2014 that it’s unconstitutional to detain people without a warrant after they would have otherwise been released. An immigration detainer — essentially a request that a local jail hold someone in custody until ICE can pick them up and begin deportation proceedings — is not backed by a probable-cause finding and doesn’t satisfy that legal requirement, the court said.
Sheriff Ty Trenary, of Snohomish County, emphasized that point last week after acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said it “undermines ICE’s ability to protect the public safety” when jurisdictions don’t honor detainer requests.
“If ICE truly felt that these offenders were a danger to society, they would establish probable cause and seek an arrest warrant, just like any other law enforcement agency,” Trenary said in a written statement. “Since our policy to no longer honor detainer requests has been in place, ICE has produced zero warrants at our jail.”
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for further information about the Mexican man’s case, including his name, which jail released him or where immigration agents arrested him.
Warden-Hertz, the immigration-rights attorney, said it was important to note the man had not been convicted.