Over the past six weeks, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents engaged in the largest Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) enforcement surge ever attempted against criminal gangs. According to an ICE press release, the operation targeted “gang members and associates involved in transnational criminal activity, including drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human smuggling and sex trafficking, murder and racketeering.”
The operation was highly successful, leading to 1,378 total arrests, including 445 non-citizen foreign nationals. Of those, 222 were members of the highly dangerous, foreign-based MS-13 or Sureños gangs. In addition, three of the suspects previously received deferred action under former President Obama’s controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
According to ICE, immigration officials and law enforcement have now arrested more than 7,300 MS-13 members since the onset of “Operation Community Shield” in 2005. The vast majority of these members are criminal aliens
During the campaign season, President Trump promised to crack down on illegal immigration, especially criminal illegal aliens. He especially drew a hard line on gang members, saying, “All illegal aliens in gangs should be apprehended and deported.” He also promised to empower and expand ICE, including a call to triple the number of ICE agents on or near the border.
Embarking on the largest-ever HSI effort against illegal aliens is certainly a strong step toward keeping that promise. It also shows that cooperation between immigration officials and local law enforcement produces results that make Americans safer. “Our efforts to dismantle gangs are much more effective in areas where partnership with local law enforcement is strongest,” noted ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan. Cities and congressional leaders that support “sanctuary city” policies should take note of these successful partnerships.