Remember when President Donald Trump vowed to deport “millions” of undocumented immigrants in a special operation last July? Immigration and Customs Enforcement actually had a special operation that was targeting 2,100 people with final deportation orders and just 35 were arrested.
Now, Gothamist and WNYC have a little more clarity about the number of ICE arrests in our region. According to data released following a Freedom of Information Request, we now know that a total of 120 immigrants were arrested in the New York City region during the month of July 2019. That’s 200 fewer than the total number of immigrants ICE arrested in our region in July, 2018, or a decline of more than 62 percent.
The New York City region includes the five boroughs, Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island and the Hudson Valley counties of Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Ulster, and Westchester.
The majority of the arrests in July—62 percent—were for immigrants with criminal convictions, as well as those with pending charges and others who didn’t have proper status. It’s not known how many of these arrests, if any, were among the 35 picked up as part of ICE’s special operation.
A less dramatic decrease was recorded in the Newark Region, which includes the northern New Jersey suburbs. A total of 222 immigrants were arrested last July compared to 273 the previous July, a decline of about 18 percent.
The regional spokesperson for ICE didn’t reply to our questions about these figures. But on Wednesday, the agency acknowledged arrests fell nationally by 10 percent in fiscal year 2019. In a statement, ICE said enforcement activity “was significantly impacted by the reallocation of resources in response to the crisis at the border.
“These resources included approximately 350 ERO officers who were reassigned in support of Southwest Border operations, as well as hundreds still dealing with the increased detention and case management requirements stemming from the massive surge of illegal crossings.”
The hype in July over “raids” frightened many undocumented immigrants in New York City. Some stayed indoors during a hot summer weekend, for fear of being arrested, and there were reports of ICE officers knocking on doors but not getting answers.
Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said local communities deserved some credit. “The decrease in arrests points to the collective success of all our members and allies in thwarting the raids," he said.