News of the presence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Canadian last weekend ricocheted through town, causing alarm among many of the community’s residents, particularly those who are undocumented.
On Monday, Hemphill County Sheriff Nathan Lewis confirmed the presence of ICE arrests here, saying he had spoken with the immigration agents. “They are seeking fugitives that have committed felony crimes and been legally deported before, but re-entered the country illegally,” Lewis said.
While he did not know how many local residents had been detained, he said, “There are several here that are convicted felons,” but added, “The only reason for anyone [else] to be worried” would be if they have a criminal record.
At least one local resident was picked up here in what ICE reported was a “specifically targeted” enforcement action, focused on foreign nationals with criminal convictions. However, relatives of another man living here reported that he had been detained by ICE agents, as well, but insisted that he had no criminal record.
A news release from ICE detailing the operation reported that 75 criminal aliens “and others” were arrested. The possibility of secondary arrests is noted later in the report: “During the targeted enforcement operations, ICE officers frequently encounter other aliens illegally present in the United States. They are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and, when appropriate, they are arrested by ICE officers.”
While some may have been caught off guard by the arrests—occurring this close to home—raids like this have been occurring for several years now.
A round of raids conducted in February across the country—mostly in urban areas—resulted in the apprehension of 680 undocumented immigrants, 75 percent of them with criminal histories. That month, ICE released a Fact Sheet detailing enforcement operations that occurred between 2011 and 2015, including 2,059 arrests nationwide in 2015, 1,660 in 2013, 4,100 in 2012 and 5,300 arrests in 2011. Examples were also offered of local fugitive operations directed by smaller field offices, which generate their own target lists.
President Donald Trump has promised to arrest and deport as many as 11.3 million undocumented immigrants—a number he has more recently lowered to 3 million—in two years.
COURTESY PHOTO PROVIDED BY ICE