ICE arrests 216 accused drug offenders in their newest enforcement operation

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced on Thursday that they had apprehended 216 individuals who were noncitizens and had criminal charges or convictions. This operation comes in the aftermath of the tragic killing of a college student in Georgia, shedding light on the issue of “sanctuary cities.”

ICE officials announced during a news conference that agents had taken action against immigration offenders who were still at large over a span of 12 days this month.

According to officials, the ICE mission aimed to target individuals who are in the country illegally and pose a threat to public safety. This operation was carried out as part of their efforts.

According to ICE’s allegations, all 216 arrested migrants have connections to drug crimes, and almost half of them had been previously deported.

Acting ICE Director Patrick J. Lechleitner emphasized the agency’s commitment to safeguarding the American public by apprehending and eliminating individuals who are responsible for fueling the devastating drug crisis.

The operation also brought attention to the contrasting objectives of federal and local law enforcement agencies. As a federal agency, ICE holds the responsibility of enforcing the country’s immigration law, whereas local law enforcement does not have this duty.

According to ICE officials, local authorities have previously released convicted migrant criminals, who are eligible for deportation, instead of detaining them. This was observed during the operation conducted this month.

Lechleitner acknowledged that certain laws in certain areas hinder the collaboration between state and local law enforcement agencies and ICE. However, he emphasized the ongoing efforts to improve cooperation in regions that may not be as receptive to ICE.

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Certain cities, known as “sanctuary cities,” limit the exchange of information between local law enforcement and ICE due to concerns about the potential misuse of federal deportation and enforcement measures. This is a viewpoint shared by advocates for migrants and civil liberties.

Last month, the situation reached a critical point when Jose Antonio Ibarra, a Venezuelan national, was taken into custody for the alleged murder of Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student at the University of Georgia. It is important to note that Ibarra has not yet entered a plea in response to the charges.

Ibarra, who entered the U.S. illegally, had been previously arrested on suspicion of an unrelated crime. However, he was released before ICE could take action to deport him, as stated by ICE.

“I cannot speak about specific jurisdictions that engage in this practice,” Lechleitner stated on Thursday when discussing sanctuary cities. “Our main objective is to express our desire to communicate with them and find ways to collaborate with our law enforcement allies.”

In their latest investigation linked to the March operation, officials have identified over 400 noncitizens who may face arrest.

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