“Return to Sender” hits NYC

Between Nov. 14 and Nov. 17, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “Fugitive Operations Units” arrested 70 immigrants in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Manhattan. Of the total, 27 had been ordered removed by an immigration judge and 43 were simply present in the US without immigration status. ICE described those arrested as including “criminal and non-criminal aliens,” but declined to say how many of them had been accused or convicted of crimes. The arrested immigrants are from Albania, Algeria, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Panama, Pakistan, Poland, Sierra Leone, Trinidad, Uzbekistan and Yugoslavia. All were transported to detention facilities in New Jersey and placed in removal proceedings. ICE announced the arrests on Nov. 17 as part of a national initiative dubbed “Operation Return to Sender.” (ICE news release, Nov. 17)

The New York sweep coincided with a separate Nov. 15 ICE sweep across eight US states and Washington, DC, in which 33 people were arrested. That sweep targeted Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, including an unknown number of Brooklyn residents, in connection with an investigation into the misuse of religious worker visas. Those arrested were charged with administrative immigration violations; some may also face criminal prosecution on visa fraud charges. Another six immigrants were arrested because they happened to be at the raided sites and were found to lack immigration status. (ICE news release, Nov. 15)

At least five Pakistani immigrants were picked up in the recent ICE raids in New York City. They include Baza Koohi, a Pakistani community leader and advocate for New York City residents affected by immigration detention. “Immigration violations are a civil offense, yet we are treated as convicted criminals,” said Mohammed Razvi of the Council of People’s Organization (COPO). “Racial profiling since 9/11 is devastating our community,” said Kavitha Pawria of DRUM-Desis Rising Up and Moving. (International Action Center press release, Nov. 23)

From Immigration News Briefs, Nov. 24

See our last posts on the immigration crackdown and “Return to Sender“.