More than 90% of illegal immigrants arrested by federal agents in the United States last year had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges, including 56,000 assaults and thousands of sex crimes, robberies, homicides and kidnappings. Many had “extensive criminal histories with multiple convictions,” according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) year-end report. The 123,128 illegal aliens arrested by the agency’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in 2019 had 489,063 criminal convictions and pending charges, representing an average of four crimes per alien, highlighting the “recidivist nature” of the arrested aliens, the agency writes, noting that sanctuary cities nationwide greatly impeded its public safety efforts.
The Dallas ICE field office, which covers north Texas and Oklahoma, led the way with 16,900 arrests in fiscal year 2019. The overwhelming majority,12,578, were convicted of crimes and 3,499 had pending criminal charges. The Atlanta field office, which is responsible for enforcing immigration law in Georgia as well as South and North Carolina, ranked second with 13,247 arrests, 8,009 of them convicted for state crimes. Another 3,943 illegal aliens had pending criminal charges. Atlanta field office leadership has repeatedly blasted local law enforcement officials within its jurisdiction for releasing droves of illegal immigrant criminals back onto the streets after being jailed for serious state crimes, accusing the sanctuary jurisdictions of creating a “serious public safety threat.”
In North Carolina alone, hundreds of violent criminals were released by local authorities last year to honor measures that offer illegal immigrants sanctuary. Among them were illegal aliens charged with serious violations such as homicide, kidnapping, arson and sex offenses. Mecklenburg County, the state’s largest, was among the biggest offenders, releasing numerous violent criminals rather than turn them over to federal authorities for removal. Among them was a previously deported Honduran charged with rape and child sex crimes. The perpetrator, 33-year-old Oscar Pacheco-Leonardo, was freed by the county sheriff, who has kept his campaign promise to protect illegal immigrants from the feds. In Buncombe County, North Carolina the elected sheriff recently freed a child sex offender to keep with his county’s sanctuary policy. The Salvadoran national, a registered sex offender charged with four felony counts of statutory sex with an 11-year-old girl, had been in ICE’s radar for years.
The Tar Heel State is hardly alone in making ICE’s enforcement duties more difficult by protecting the most violent of illegal immigrants. Police nationwide are contributing to the crisis, refusing to participate in a local-federal partnership known as 287(g) that notifies ICE of jail inmates in the country illegally so they can be deported after serving time for state crimes. Instead, a growing number of law enforcement agencies are releasing the illegal aliens——many with serious convictions such as child sex offenses, rape and murder—rather than turn them over to federal authorities for removal. In California various police departments released 16 illegal immigrants with criminal records during a three-month period, some arrested and released multiple times by the same agency. Offenders include Mexican, Honduran and Salvadoran nationals charged with murder, rape, assault with a deadly weapon, spousal abuse, driving under the influence of alcohol, possession of illegal drugs and other serious crimes.
ICE still managed to deport some after scooping them up in targeted operations. Last year ICE removed 5,497 known or suspected gang members and 58 known or suspected terrorists. Just this month, ICE arrested a previously deported illegal immigrant released by local authorities in a fatal hit and run that killed a 35-year-old woman on Christmas eve. The Mexican national, 27-year-old Jorge Flores-Villalba, was arrested and released by Stony Point Town Police in New York. ICE’s New York Field Office Director, Thomas Decker, blasted Stony Point officials in a statement. “Creating laws and policies that prevent cooperation between law enforcement agencies just to promote their political agenda, places the safety of the public in danger,” he said. “Due to the hard work of our officers, we were able to find and arrest this accused criminal, but there are countless others who are released without ICE even knowing, or whom it may take a great amount of resources to find for arrest.”