EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — An immigration agency said it arrested 2,000-plus individuals in a five-week sweep targeting undocumented migrants charged or convicted of crimes against other people.
The nationwide operation took place between July 13 and Aug. 20. Several arrests took place in the Los Angeles area, ICE officials said in a Tuesday teleconference.
“The (undocumented migrants) targeted during this operation preyed on men, women and children in our communities, committing serious crimes and, at times, repeatedly hurting their victims,” said Tony H. Pham, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
About 85% of the arrestees who were taken into custody for immigration violations had pending criminal procedures or previous criminal convictions, he said. Others were arrested for immigration violations during the course of the investigation.
ICE highlighted the arrest of individuals convicted of attacking family members. Among them was Edwin Mendoza Santos, 38, of Alexandria, Virginia. The Honduran national was charged with aggravated sexual battery of a person under 13 years of age.
Also arrested was Antolin Anastacio Galindo, 43, of Mexico. Galindo was wanted for assault, strangulation with criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation and aggravated harassment causing physical injury to a family member.
Asked about the collateral arrests — detentions of migrants who were not the targets of the operation but were arrested nonetheless — Pham said the agency has never stated it would only detain migrants with criminal records.
He said that’s usually the practice under prosecutorial discretion but that the agency will detain people for immigration violations as warranted.
He also denied any of the collateral arrests involved witnesses or victims of the arrestees. “We don’t target victims or witnesses of crimes. That is a false narrative,” he said. “If you are a witness or a victim of a crime, we will not put you in immigration procedures.”
Undocumented immigrants who are victims of crimes can call the VOICE hotline for assistance at 1-855-48-VOICE.
Of the arrestees, 764 were convicted or had pending charges of assault, 507 had domestic violence charges or convictions and 258 were either wanted or convicted for sexual offenses, including against minors. The rest were wanted or had convictions involving other offenses, including murder, robbery and extortion.