From Dec. 14 to Dec. 18, ICE agents from three local fugitive operations teams arrested 84 immigrants from Costa Rica, Mexico, Nepal and Nicaragua in the Dallas metropolitan area. The arrests were made in Argyle, Arlington, Balch Springs, The Colony, Carrollton, Dallas, Denton, Duncanville, Farmers Branch, Fort Worth, Garland, Haltom City, Irving, Kennedale, Mesquite, Plano, Richardson and Rowlett. Of the total 84 people arrested, 64 reportedly had final removal orders; the other 20 were out-of-status immigrants encountered during the course of the raids. Forty of the 84 reportedly had criminal histories. ICE was assisted in the operation by the US Marshals Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the police departments of Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco and Grand Prairie. (ICE news release, Dec. 19)
In a five-day operation ending Dec. 23, ICE agents arrested 110 immigrants in the South Florida areas of Miami, Broward, Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa. ICE said 81 of those arrested were “fugitives” who had failed to comply with deportation orders; the other 29 were out-of-status immigrants encountered during the raids. According to ICE, 24 of the 110 people arrested had criminal histories. Most of the arrests (47) took place in Miami-Dade County; 30 arrests were in Broward County; 15 in Palm Beach County; seven in the Orlando area and 11 in Tampa. Of the total 110 people arrested, 17 were released under the Alternatives to Detention Program because they were verified to be sole caregivers of young children or had medical concerns. The other 93 people were being held in ICE custody. Those arrested came from countries including Guatemala, Haiti, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Moldova, Cuba, Bahamas, Nicaragua, Peru, Poland, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Mexico, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada and Gambia. (ICE news release, Dec. 23)
The pre-Christmas raid in South Florida followed similar ICE operations in the same area in November. At a Dec. 9 press conference, several community groups called for an investigation into ICE abuses during a Nov. 19 raid in Homestead. ICE apparently used a human trafficking investigation to obtain warrants for the Nov. 19 operation, in which the agency swept up 77 people, none of whom were charged criminally in connection with the trafficking case. In a complaint sent to R. Alexander Acosta, the US Attorney who helped ICE secure the warrants, community members said ICE agents beat at least six Guatemalan men during the raid; officials at the Broward Transitional Center, where some of those arrested were detained, were so concerned that they called for an official inquiry into the injuries.
Jonathan Fried, executive director of the Homestead-based community group WeCount!, said a Guatemalan woman saw agents beat her husband and throw him on the floor in front of their four-year-old daughter. Witnesses also reported several incidents of ICE agents pointing guns to residents’ heads, including in front of children; using excessive force in executing search warrants; and using racial profiling to detain bystanders. (News release from WeCount! & Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, Dec. 10; Miami Herald, Dec. 10; South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Dec. 10; New York Times, Dec. 9)
ICE announced in a Nov. 21 news release that it had arrested four “sex traffickers” and “rescued” nine “victims” on Nov. 19 while executing search warrants tied to the investigation of more than a dozen brothels and stash houses in Palm Beach and Broward counties where immigrant women were reportedly forced into prostitution. (ICE news release, Nov. 21) (In a Nov. 25 news release, ICE reported the arrests of 71 people from Nov. 17 to 21 as part of a “fugitive” operation in Miami, Broward, Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa—see INB, Nov. 30.)
ICE spokesperson Nicole Navas announced on Dec. 9 that the ICE agents involved in the Nov. 19 raid on the sex slave ring are under investigation for the alleged abuses. “The ICE Office of Investigations strongly denies all allegations of agent misconduct,” said Navas. “However, as is routine protocol, all allegations have been forwarded to the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility for their independent review.” Steve Mocsary, special agent in charge of the Office of Professional Responsibility in Plantation, Florida, said the investigation could take months. (Sun-Sentinel, Dec. 10) Advocates said the internal probe was insufficient, and called for a robust investigation by the ICE Office of Inspector General or the US Attorney’s office in Miami. (NYT, Dec. 9)
From Immigration News Briefs, Jan. 17