Three people on the North Fork were arrested during a five-day sweep by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers as part of an operation that led to 65 arrests throughout New York City and Long Island this month, the agency announced Wednesday.
ICE officers made arrests in Riverhead, Southold and Greenport as part of 10 total in Suffolk County, an ICE spokesperson confirmed. Additional arrests on the South Fork were in Southampton, Westhampton Beach and East Hampton.
Officials said those arrested during “Operation Cross Check,” which ended July 20, had violated U.S. immigration laws and 64 of the detainees had been previously removed from the United States and returned illegally. Several had prior felony convictions for serious or violent offenses, such as sexual offenses, weapons charges and assault, the agency said. Of those arrested, 29 had previously been released from law enforcement custody with an active detainer, according to ICE.
Details on the specific arrests made on the East End were minimal. Southold Town police Chief Martin Flatley said ICE did not seek the department’s assistance. He said the extent of the interaction was likely courtesy call to a dispatcher to alert police that ICE agents were in the area at the time.
“As in the past, when ICE officers come into town to make arrests they rarely notify us ahead of time unless they need our assistance,” he said in an email. “Apparently they did not need any assistance from us this time around.”
Riverhead Town police assisted ICE with an additional arrest Wednesday morning. Riverhead police received a call at 5:07 a.m. to assist with an arrest on a suspect with an outstanding warrant. The man fled on foot resulting in a pursuit and New York State police and Park police assisted, according to Riverhead police. The man was turned over to ICE. Police did not have information on the charges because that was handled by ICE.
Thomas Decker, field office director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations team, said ICE agents in New York “continue to enforce immigration laws as they have always done, targeting criminal aliens and removing them from our streets.”
His statement pushed back against recent criticism the agency has been under as protestors and some Democratic lawmakers have called for the government to abolish the agency. Under President Trump, the agency has been directed to enforce immigration laws more aggressively, allowing for more deportations regardless of whether the undocumented immigrants committed a serious crime, which was the focus of the agency under President Obama.
“The rhetoric is copious, blurring the lines of fact versus fiction,” Mr. Decker said in the news release. “But despite all the criticism, our officers continue to work daily with professionalism and integrity, enforcing the law as set forth by Congress.”
Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who has been a vocal supporter of the agency, shared a link to a Newsday story on the arrests on Twitter and wrote: “We love you @ICEgov!”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, has been an outspoken critic of ICE, arguing the agency should be rebuilt to separate criminal justice and immigration.
“I think you should reimagine ICE under a new agency with a very different mission and take those two missions out,” she said on CNN last month.
In the news release on “Operation Cross Check,” officials said some of the individuals arrested during the operation will face federal criminal prosecutions for illegal entry and illegal re-entry after deportation. Those arrested who are not being federally prosecuted will be detained in ICE custody and processed administratively for removal from the country.
The arrestees include nationals from Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Savador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico and Ukraine, according to ICE.
Photo credit: Immigration and Customs Enforcement