PORTLAND, Ore. – Eighty-four undocumented immigrants in Oregon and Washington were arrested during a three-day sweep, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Thursday.
Sixty of the people arrested had criminal histories, ICE said. Twenty-four did not.
Not everyone who was arrested during the sweep had a criminal background. ICE said agents “frequently encounter additional suspects” and those people may also be arrested after a case-by-case evaluation.
"ICE does not conduct sweeps, checkpoints, or raids that target aliens indiscriminately," said Rose Richeson, spokeswoman for the agency.
The announcement confirms ICE conducted an operation specifically targeting undocumented immigrants with criminal histories in Oregon and Washington. The news comes after several undocumented immigrants, including DACA residents (“dreamers”), were detained.
The sweep took place between March 25 - March 27. ICE said it specifically targeted “at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and immigration fugitives.”
“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 ICE 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.”
One of the most violent offenders was a Mexican man who has been charged with child rape. ICE said the man had previously been deported and was recently released by local authorities despite an immigration detainer. ICE did not say where the man had been residing.
Most of the people who were arrested were from Mexico. Eight were from Guatemala, two were from Honduras and one each was from El Salvador, the United Kingdom, Cambodia, Brazil, Laos, the Philliipines, Western Samoa, Myanmar and Russia.
Of the 84 arrested, 19 had criminal convictions for DUII – the most common conviction. Seven had been convicted of assault, four convicted of larceny, and three of domestic violence.
Seven people were arrested in Multnomah County and 13 were arrested in Washington County. King County in Washington had the most arrests, with 19.
ICE said some of the people arrested will face federal prosecution for re-entry and could receive up to 20 years in prison as a punishment. The rest will be processed for deportation.
ICE sweeps have taken place in at least half a dozen states since President Donald Trump took office. ICE said targeted enforcement operations are happening every day across the country.
Under Trump, ICE has been given more authority to arrest undocumented immigrants without criminal convictions or with minor infractions, a departure from former president Barack Obama's policy, which only targeted people who pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Despite a stricter ICE policy, more than 2 million people were deported during the eight years Barack Obama was president.
There are an estimated 130,000 undocumented immigrants currently living in Oregon.
Oregonians for Immigration Reform released a statement opposing Obama's policies for undocumented children and parents living in the U.S. (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parental Arrivals, or DACA and DAPA).
"Both were executive actions which went around our immigration laws, Congress and the courts," the organization said.
Oregon Republican party chair Bill Currier said he supports ICE's actions but believes the DACA program needs to be adjusted.
"ICE is going after those illegal aliens that are committing serious crimes and they should," he said. “The problem with the executive order under DACA is that it does not give them legal status. So it leaves them in limbo. It's really not fair to them either.”
Governor Brown said Thursday she stands behind Oregon's status as a sanctuary state but will continue to comply with federal laws.
"Immigrant families, please know that my support for you is unwavering," she said. "As long as I'm governor, I will continue to fight to make Oregon a welcome state for all."
Democratic lawmakers in Oregon have filed a Freedom of Information Act request about how ICE targets certain state locations.