Days after a public disagreement with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration over enforcement issues, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 40 criminal aliens in Connecticut, the agency announced Wednesday.
But the administration is making no claims of retaliation like those that dogged ICE in 2007, when agents rounded up illegal immigrants in New Haven soon after the administration of Mayor John DeStefano issued them identification cards.
In fact, the federal government recently paid $350,000 to 11 people arrested in those New Haven raids in 2007. The defendants complained that agents forcibly entered their homes without warrants.
ICE announced Wednesday that it arrested 45 aliens in Connecticut and Massachusetts in a four-day operation that ended Monday. Unlike in 2007, all those arrested had criminal convictions or, in one case, outstanding arrest warrants.
Michael P. Lawlor, who oversees criminal justice policy for the Malloy administration, said the governor has objected to local police routinely being used as ICE agents by automatically detaining any immigrant without legal status, saying it makes illegal immigrants unwilling to notify police of crimes.
“What the governor has said is these kinds of decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “Serious criminals and terrorists, of course, should be taken into custody and deported as soon as possible. No one is arguing that point.”
Wednesday’s announcement of the arrests said 18 of those detained had serious criminal convictions. It did not list the criminal backgrounds of the others. The announcement was made in a news release emailed after 5 p.m.
“I would assume this is what ICE would do all the time,” Lawlor said, asked of the timing. “I don’t know enough about their operations to know if this is unusual. One would hope they do it all the time.”
The arrests were made as part of ICE’s “enforcement and removal operations,” known as ERO.
“ERO is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security,” ICE says on its website. “ERO also prioritizes the arrest and removal of those who game the immigration system including immigration fugitives or those criminal aliens who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country.”
The agency’s announcement included a tally of those deported under the program, compared with the baseline year of 2008, the last year of the Bush administration.
“Largely as a result of these initiatives, for three years in a row, ERO has removed more aliens than were removed in fiscal year 2008. Overall, in FY 2011 ERO removed 396,906 individuals nationwide — the largest number in the agency’s history. Of these, nearly 55 percent or 216,698 of the people removed, were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors — an 89 percent increase in the removal of criminals since FY 2008. This includes 1,119 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,848 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 44,653 aliens convicted of drug related crimes; and 35,927 aliens convicted of driving under the influence.”