Continuing a sweep that began early this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 232 undocumented immigrants over four days, ending March 1.
Information was not available as to how many Indian nationals were arrested in the new round of raids. But on Jan. 10, as ICE raided 98 7-eleven stores across the country – ostensibly attempting to ascertain whether employees had work authorization documents allowing them to be employed in the U.S. – India-West learned that at least six Indian nationals were targeted in Northern California; at least two were arrested.
Approximately two-thirds of America’s convenience stores are owned by Indian Americans and other South Asians, according to data from the American Petroleum and Convenient Store Association. ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke told India-West in January that the raids were a “routine investigative component conducted by ICE Homeland Security Investigations.” (See earlier India-West story here.)
In a March 1 press statement, ICE confirmed the 232 arrests in Northern California. Of those arrested, 180 were either convicted criminals, had been issued a final order of removal and failed to depart the U.S., or had been previously removed from the United States and returned, said the agency.
One-hundred fifteen of those detained had prior felony convictions for serious or violent offenses, such as child sex crimes, weapons charges, and assault, or had past convictions for significant or multiple misdemeanors, according to ICE.
Some of the individuals arrested during this operation will face federal criminal prosecutions for illegal entry and illegal re-entry after deportation. The arrestees who are not being federally prosecuted will be processed administratively for removal from the U.S., said ICE. Those who have outstanding orders of deportation, or who returned to the U.S. after being deported, are subject to immediate removal from the country, said the agency in a press statement, adding that the remaining individuals are in ICE custody awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge, or pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future.
“Recent legislation has negatively impacted ICE operations in California by nearly eliminating all cooperation and communication with our law enforcement partners in the state by prohibiting local law enforcement from contracting with the federal government to house detainees,” stated ICE in a press release, adding: “ICE has no choice but to continue to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites.”
“Ultimately, efforts by local politicians have shielded removable criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and created another magnet for more illegal immigration, all at the expense of the safety and security of the very people it purports to protect,” stated the agency.