84 undocumented immigrants arrested in Pacific Northwest

Federal immigration authorities arrested 84 undocumented immigrants this week in a three day operation in 20 communities throughout Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were targeting at-large criminals, illegal re-entrants, and immigration fugitives, according to the agency.

Of those detained, 60 had criminal records, with one Mexican national who was previously deported, and released by local authorities despite a federal immigration detainer and a child rape charge. There were 77 men and seven women arrested from 12 countries — 64 people from Mexico, eight from Guatemala, two from Honduras, and one each from the United Kingdom, Cambodia, Brazil, Laos, Philippines, Western Samoa, Myanmar, and Russia.

Most of the people taken into custody, 19, had prior convictions for driving under the influence, while 10 people had prior assault or domestic violence convictions and three had weapons convictions. Several others were previously convicted on drug charges.

Some of the detainees are expected to face federal prosecution for re-entry after deportation, a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison. Several others will be processed for immediate removal.

“This operation highlights our commitment to promoting public safety through the pursuit of targeted criminals residing in the U.S. illegally,” said Bryan Wilcox, acting field office director for Seattle Enforcement and Removal Operations. “Our officers will continue in their efforts to create safer communities by identifying and removing those not willing to comply with U.S. laws.”

Oregon state Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon filed a Freedom of Information request this week asking for transparency from ICE on the agency’s activities in her state. The move comes after ICE detained two DACA recipients in Portland. DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative which began under the Obama administration. It allows undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before their 16th birthday to apply for a two year delay of removal actions by immigration authorities.

In early March, ICE clarified in a tweet that “DACA is not a protected legal status, but active DACA recipients are typically a lower level of enforcement priority.”

“Deferred action may be revoked anytime especially when someone commits a crime or poses a national security of public safety threat,” read a second tweet from ICE on March 9.

The Trump administration has been cracking down on undocumented immigrants in recent months, following a Jan. 25 executive order from the president, and subsequent efforts from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice.

ICE has 24 Enforcement and Removal Operations field offices nationwide. According to the agency’s website, more than 350,000 “removable aliens” have been arrested by the 129 Fugitive Operations Teams working in the U.S. since 2003.

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