NEW YORK - The head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field operations in New York is blasting elected officials and community activists, saying they're lying to the public about a recent sweep of arrests in the state.
It comes after 82 people in the city, Long Island and Hudson Valley were arrested in an immigration crackdown between Saturday and Wednesday for violating immigration laws.
Officials say more than 40 of those arrested were previously released from local law enforcement custody.
Of those, 10 had been deported, then returned to the U.S. illegally.
According to immigration officials, several had prior felony convictions for serious or violent offenses or for significant or multiple misdemeanors.
Of those arrested during the five day period, more than half were released with an active detainer.
ICE New York Field Office Director Thomas Decker says releasing people with criminal charges back into society threatens the safety of citizens.
"You have subjects who are dangerous, public threats, who have already been arrested based on them being a threat and they're just right back out in the community," Decker said.
This week State Attorney General Letitia James and Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez filed a federal lawsuit against ICE trying to prevent them from arresting undocumented immigrants in courthouses.
ICE officials contest that also, saying they're going after violent individuals in courthouses, not those just looking for services.
"That's a lie. That's not true," said Decker. "We're doing targeted enforcement actions. We're after the person, that if we're not able to pick them up from the jail and they're a public threat and they're removable. Then we're gonna look for them in the community. And if we don't have the information where they're at in the community and then if we can pick them up then at the court then that's what we're going to do."
ICE officials add they will be picking up enforcement if local officials don't allow officers to turn over undocumented immigrants who are arrested in the five boroughs.