37 arrested in 5-day ICE operation in Middlesex County; agency critical of county policy

BY Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2 | MonroeNow | Jul 18, 2018

Areas in Middlesex County were targeted in a five-day “enforcement surge” that resulted in 37 immigrants being arrested for various accusations or convictions including sexual assault, burglary and domestic violence, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said on Monday.

In the statement announcing the arrests, ICE officials criticized Middlesex County leaders because 16 of the 37 arrested had been released by the Middlesex County Jail prior to the ICE operation.

“ERO [Enforcement and Removal Operations] New Jersey will continue to enforce ICE’s commitment to public safety,” said acting Field Office Director of ERO in Newark Ruben Perez. “Middlesex County, which aspires to be a ‘sanctuary county’ by protecting criminal aliens, in the process assists criminals in undermining federal laws and creates a dangerous environment in the community. It also overburdens local law enforcement. ICE will continue to execute its mission in such communities.”

ICE said it issued a detainer order requesting the county jail to hold the immigrants until the agency could pick up the individuals, but the facility released the individuals without notifying ICE. The federal agency said it was purposely targeting immigrants who were formerly “incarcerated at the Middlesex County Jail and who subsequently released to the community by [Middlesex County Jail] … The operation also targeted other criminal aliens residing in Middlesex County.”

Middlesex County officials denied the accusations from ICE in a statement, calling it “not true” that the county “aspires to be a ‘sanctuary county.”

In 2017, the county approved a policy that does allow it to refuse to honor ICE’s two-day hold orders, however, unless the immigrant has been convicted of a first- or second-degree serious offense, such as murder or drug distribution. Otherwise, unless ICE gets an order from a federal judge, the individuals with lesser offense can be released.

“ICE representatives have been repeatedly advised that the County will honor every order issued by a Federal Judge to detain an inmate.  ICE has the legal authority and the resources to secure such orders from a Federal Judge with regard to any inmate in the County’s custody it seeks to detain or deport but has chosen not to seek such orders,” county officials said.

“The individuals arrested as part of the operation were nationals of Brazil, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, and Turkey,” ICE said.

Among those ICE arrested who were released by the county jail include:

  • A 21-year-old citizen of Guatemala was arrested by the Green Brook Police Department on June 20 in Somerset County for driving under the influence of alcohol and by the Middlesex Police Department for burglary-entering structure, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and hindering oneself/false information and was booked into Middlesex County Jail. On June 21 ICE issued a detainer, but he was released.
  • A 21-year-old citizen of Honduras was arrested by the New Brunswick Police Department on May 29 for aggravated assault, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a weapon. On May 29 ICE issued a detainer, but he was released.
  • A 41-year-old citizen of Honduras was arrested by the New Brunswick Police Department on Sept. 18, 2017 for driving with a suspended license. On Sept. 18, 2017 ICE issued a detainer, but the detainer was not honored and he was released. Subject has prior arrests for forgery.
  • A 29-year-old citizen of Mexico was arrested by the Perth Amboy Police Department on March 12 for aggravated assault on law enforcement and possession of CDS/analog. On March 13 ICE issued a detainer, but the detainer was not honored and she was released. She has prior arrests for assault by auto and DUI.
  • A 29-year-old citizen of El Salvador was arrested by the Carteret Police Department on Sept. 1, 2017 for endangering-abuse/neglect of a child. On Sept. 5, 2017 ICE issued a detainer, but the detainer was not honored and he was released. After his release, he was arrested for DUI and subsequently convicted on March 15 for the same offense.

Those arrested will remain in ICE’s custody pending removal or immigration proceedings, the agency said.