Approximately 44 Mexican and Guatemalan nationals were arrested last week during Immigration and Customs Enforcement sweeps carried out throughout San Diego, according to the agency.
The 44 people arrested included individuals with deportation orders, who were present in violation of immigration law, or who had been previously removed from the United States, in addition to nine other people whose withholding of removal applications were denied and were subsequently arrested upon being released from prison “pursuant to SB-54,” stated ICE alluding to the California bill that limits collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration officers.
Gregory Archambeault, San Diego Field Office Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations, said in a news release that the operation reflects their mission to “uphold public safety and protect the integrity of our immigration laws and border controls.”
“While we continue to face significant obstacles in dealing with so-called ‘sanctuary-city’ policies, which hinder cooperation with local law enforcement, we will continue our relentless pursuit of safeguarding communities, diligently enforcing the U.S. immigration laws,” added Archambeault in the news release.
The arrests were made over five days of operations spanning from communities as far south as Imperial Beach and Chula Vista to north county communities such as Vista, Santee, Oceanside, and Escondido.
According to the release, some of the crimes committed by those arrested in this second large-scale operation since the passing of SB-54, were vandalism, drug-related offenses, DUI charges, and robbery.
An earlier operation in mid-March, which coincided with President Donald Trump’s visit to San Diego, resulted in 114 people arrested in San Diego and Imperial counties, many of whom had no criminal background.
The fact that ICE’s news release “calls out SB-54 by name” and refers to “so-called sanctuary cities,” made American Friends Service Committee member Adriana Jasso feel that these sweeps could be politically motivated.
“ICE then comes and brings up and insists on the ‘criminal element’, and to tout efforts that from one week to the next – let’s hope not – could ramp up in these impacted communities,” she said, adding that this action could be a warning of harsher operations to come.