The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announced on Thursday that it had arrested nearly 500 undocumented immigrants over the course of a four-day raid called Operation Safe City which specifically targeted sanctuary cities across the United States.
According to ICE, Operation Safe City resulted in 498 detentions. Baltimore, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, and Washington, D.C., were among the cities targeted.
In a press release issued by the agency, ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan had harsh words for sanctuary cities, which refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration,” Homan said. “As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”
Homan also claimed that these sweeping sanctuary city raids, which concluded on Wednesday, were done to “to build cooperative, respectful relationships with our law enforcement partners to help prevent dangerous criminal aliens from being released back onto the streets”
“Non-cooperation policies severely undermine that effort at the expense of public safety,” he added.
However, many local law enforcement agencies insist the exact opposite, claiming that any perceived association between themselves and the threat of federal immigration tactics is a detriment to serving their communities.
Earlier this month, ICE had reportedly planned on conducting a massive, nationwide raid known as Operation Mega, targeting some 8,400 undocumented immigrants across the U.S. However, as news of the impending raids were made public, the agency canceled the scheduled sweep, claiming that Hurricanes Irma and Harvey had complicated its plans.
While it’s unclear whether Operation Safe City was borne out of the residual plans originally hatched for Operation Mega, one law enforcement official noted that these sorts of large-scale ICE raids scheduled for this month may be prompted, in part, by a desire to hit an agency milestone by the impending Sep. 30 fiscal year deadline.