Federal immigration officers announced this week that they'd arrested more than one hundred immigrants living in the New York area during an 11-day sweep earlier this month.
According to an ICE press release, 114 foreign nationals based in New York were arrested in the operation, 99 of whom lived in the city. Thirty-six arrests occurred in Manhattan, 32 in Queens, 15 in Brooklyn, and 11 in the Bronx, officials said.
"The recent raids in New York City are a clear example of Donald Trump's senseless and inhumane immigration policy in action," said Anu Joshi, director of immigration policy at the New York Immigration Coalition. "When entire communities are criminalized and therefore afraid to interact with law enforcement, the safety of everyone is placed at risk."
The ICE announcement also noted that the sweep targeted "at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants, and immigration fugitives." Eighty two of those arrested had criminal histories, the press release claimed, and 37 have final orders of removal.
It's unclear whether this is the largest sweep to take place in New York since the election of Trump, as immigration advocates stressed that the "11-day period" cited by ICE seemed arbitrary. A spokesperson for ICE did not respond to a question about previous sweeps. Immigration advocates also emphasized that, while heightened enforcement was definitely a concern, the broadcasting of these sweeps should also be seen as a broader strategy intended to sow fear among immigrants.
"From the beginning, this administration has purposefully attempted to make immigrant communities feel afraid," Joshi told Gothamist. "Sensationalizing this operation, or pushing a narrative about who these communities are, is just another way for them to do that."
"These are still immigrants and families who are being arrested, so whether that happens in 11 days or over the course of a month, I don't think that really matters," Joshi added.
The arrest total is the second highest announced by ICE this month, after a targeted enforcement operation in Central and Southern Texas swept up 123 immigrants.
"Regardless of politics, ICE will be diligent in its responsibility to find those who come to the United States to prey upon our communities and ultimately return them to their home countries," Thomas R. Decker, New York field office director for enforcement and removal operations, said in a statement.
The purpose of the New York announcement, according to Juan Carlos Ruiz, a Lutheran Minister and the co-founder of the New Sanctuary Coalition, is to send a message to so-called sanctuary cities that "they have no power at all." He added that ICE agents at a downtown Manhattan federal building recently told him and other organizers that "there is no more dialogue, this is a new administration and we are not listening to humanitarian explanations."
Earlier this week, an ICE agent spoke to the New Yorker about the increasing brutality of the agency since Trump became president.
"We used to look at things through the totality of the circumstances when it came to a removal order—that's out the window,” the anonymous officer said. "We're not doing what we tell people we do. If you look next month, or at the end of this month, at the people in custody, it's people who've been here for years. They're supposed to be in high school."
"We’re putting more people into that overburdened system just because we can," the agent added. "There’s just this school of thought that, well, we can do what we want."