33 arrested in one of the largest ICE operations in West Michigan
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - 33 immigrants in the U.S. illegally were arrested in West Michigan during a four-day ICE operation.
It's believed to be one of the largest enforcement actions of its kind in our area.
Sheriff Matt Saxton is unsure just how many of those 33 being detained here in Calhoun County. For the past 19 years, the jail has had a contract with ICE to house immigrants after they've been picked up by agents.
According to ICE, of the 28 men and five women arrested, nearly 80 percent had prior criminal convictions, including criminal sexual conduct, child abuse, child neglect, and domestic violence.
ICE says a majority of those arrested are Mexican nationals.
“They're going and looking for certain targets. And those are folks who have an immigration orders in place,” Saxton said.
ICE didn't say where these arrests took place, but did say one Mexican national with a prior CSC conviction was arrested in Wyoming.
Saxton says many of the immigrants arrested by ICE in West Michigan. End up in his jail. He says right now there are 220 ICE detainees in the 630 bed facility.
“We are one of their largest housing entities in the state of Michigan,” Saxton said.
ICE says some of the individuals arrested could be charged in federal court for re-entry after deportation--a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Those not being criminally prosecuted will face removal from the country.
“Families often call us in a state of panic, a loved one, often a bread winner taken away,” said Susan Reed, managing attorney with the Michigan Immigration Rights Center.
The center--based in Kalamazoo--is providing legal assistance to several families of immigrants arrested. Reed says large-scale arrests by ICE officers, like this recent one happen about four times a year in West Michigan.
ICE wouldn't talk with us on-camera, but notified media with a news release.
“A press release about numbers of people from particular countries in particular really sets out to define those people by their worst act. Or the lowest moment of their lives,” Reed said.