Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 45 people in New York City over the course of the four days ending Wednesday, according to a press release published Thursday afternoon.
The arrests are part of a national "Safe City" operation targeting jurisdictions where local police limit their cooperation with federal immigration agents, a broad category known as sanctuary cities, according to ICE.
"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," said ICE acting director Tom Homan in a statement. "As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities."
Since 2014, New York City has refused to detain immigrants in city precincts or jails at ICE's request, under most circumstances. However, ICE has the legal authority to conduct raids and detain immigrants in New York City, regardless of NYPD cooperation. Under President Obama, ICE agents conducted hundreds of raids in the city, at courthouses and private residences.
NYC also cooperates when ICE is seeking an individual convicted of any of 170 crimes deemed "violent or serious," and City Hall reiterated as much this week.
"We will continue to voluntarily cooperate on requests from federal immigrant enforcement within the parameters of our local laws," said Rosemary Boeglin of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs.
Of the total 498 detainees arrested nation-wide this week, 181 do not have a criminal record, according to ICE. This means roughly 36 percent of immigrants picked up in the sweep are being held for their undocumented status alone. This category of non-citizens was considered a low priority in the latter years of the Obama administration, but President Donald Trump has widened the dragnet.
In addition to the New York arrests, there were 28 in Baltimore; 30 in Cook County, Illinois; 63 in Denver; 101 in Los Angeles; 107 in Philadelphia; 33 in Portland; 27 in Santa Clara County, California; 14 in Washington, D.C.; and 50 across Massachusetts.
Of the 387 with criminal records, top convictions include negligent manslaughter with a vehicle (one person) and sex offense against a child (ten people), as well minor crimes like disorderly conduct (seven), trespassing (three), and shoplifting (two). The largest category is driving under the influence (86 people).
"If you look at shoplifting, or damage to property, or disorderly conduct: are these crimes? Yes," said Camille Mackler, director of legal initiatives for the New York Immigration Coalition. "Do you need... exile from your country and your family being devastated because of this? No."
ICE spokeswoman Rachael Yong-Yow declined to provide a breakdown of charges specific to the 45 New York City arrestees. "I do not have stats available for the charges specifically for the New York arrests," she said via email, adding, "you would have to FOIA for that information."
"We are disappointed to yet again see over broad ICE enforcement, including nearly 200 arrests of residents nationwide with no criminal convictions whatsoever," said Boeglin, the City Hall spokeswoman.
ICE's apparent targeting of individuals with low-level convictions has bolstered critics of broken windows policing, which disproportionately targets low-income New Yorkers of color for minor offenses like turnstile jumping. Mayor de Blasio has defended the practice, which hinges on the logic that policing minor crimes prevents major ones.
Nationally, ICE arrests jumped nearly 40 percent between January and April of this year: 41,318 people, up from 30,028 people between January 24th and April 30th, 2016. Of the total arrested, more than 25 percent have no criminal record.
In New York State, overall arrests increased about 31 percent in that period, from 523 to 687. Within that group, non-criminal arrests more than doubled, from 77 to 156.
"There's this feeling in our communities that [ICE is] looking and waiting for us," said Scott Hechinger, senior staff attorney and director of policy at Brooklyn Defender Services. "But it's not only that they're targeting individuals, it seems like they are targeting and punishing jurisdictions for standing up to ICE."