Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested more than 600 immigrants—41 of whom were located in the New York region—across the nation last week and, not surprisingly, the city’s immigrant population was further left on pins and needles, considering President Donald Trump’s recently thwarted executive action that banned residents from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States.
ICE Secretary John Kelly said that a majority of the arrests involved “criminal aliens” who had previously been convicted of such crimes as homicide, drug trafficking and sexual assault. Of the 41 individuals arrested in New York, 38 had criminal convictions.
While ICE won’t likely receive much criticism for removing a person wanted for murder (there was at least one) or individuals who had been convicted of sexually assaulting minors (there were at least two), the concern stemming from the arrests has less to do with the 38 New York denizens who had criminal convictions than the other three who did not.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer has said that he is troubled by the “lack of transparency and potential due-process violations” and his concern is valid. ICE has not released the names of most of the New Yorkers who were detained and there has been little information as to where the arrests took place.
And it’s understandable, considering Trump’s stated intentions on immigration, that immigrants residing in Queens remain unsettled by events of the past few weeks. The question that many borough immigrants may be asking themselves is, “Who’s next?”
The governor, mayor and numerous elected officials representing Queens at the city, state and federal level have vowed to protect undocumented immigrants living in one of the nation’s sanctuary cities.
Detaining immigrants who are wanted for violent crimes makes the city safer. But arresting people simply on the grounds that they are undocumented does not. The city should stand by its promise to protect them.