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Remarks as Prepared by Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf for ICE Operation Rise Announcement

Release Date: 
October 7, 2020

Good morning, everyone.

We’re here today to announce the success of the first phase of Operation Rise, ICE’s latest operation targeting criminal aliens in Sanctuary Cities across the country.

Acting Director Pham, I want to commend you and your officers for your hard work and success with this effort particularly in light of the COVID-19 precautions and parameters you currently operate under.

Your leadership and the perseverance of your officers exemplifies the commitment by ICE to uphold the rule of law.

I would also like to recognize our Angel families. I’ve had the opportunity to meet several of them, and I express my deepest condolences to them. I cannot imagine their pain. I remind them that their loved ones are not forgotten by DHS. Their suffering will never be forgotten; and their grief is shared by all Americans who mourn with them.

Nearly four years ago, this Administration put forth an “America First” strategy with a clear mandate to secure our borders, restore integrity to our immigration system, and most importantly, protect American communities by upholding the rule of law.

Since day one, DHS has worked around the clock to fulfill that mandate and perform our sworn duty to secure the Homeland.

Unfortunately, certain local political leaders, including many in California continue to put politics over public safety. Instead of fulfilling our shared mission to protect our communities, they would rather play politics with the law by enacting so-called Sanctuary City policies to the detriment of our country’s safety.

Some mistakenly believe this is compassionate. But it is not. There is no compassion for the Americans whose lives have been destroyed or ended by these policies.

Politicians and media pundits may attempt to spin and hide the truth, but the fact remains: Sanctuary City policies shield violent criminal aliens at the expense of American lives. There’s simply no way around it.

It wasn’t always like this. Historically, ICE enjoyed strong partnerships with local law enforcement.  They used to honor our requests to detain violent criminals and keep them from further harming our communities.

Sadly, political gamesmanship has shattered many of those partnerships, mocking and hurting the rule of law.

Nevertheless, this Administration and this Department will never be deterred by reckless policies.  We will continue to do our job and protect the American people with or without the help of these politicians.

Our obligation to protect American citizens from illegal aliens who rape, murder, and otherwise commit violent crimes against our communities does not stop at the borders of a so-called sanctuary city. It encompasses all of the United States of America.

Like it or not, this is the reality: our Constitution unambiguously places the power to set immigration policy with the federal government. Our government is by the people and for the people, and those who represent them in Congress decide our immigration laws.

The job of President Trump, DHS, and ICE is to fully enforce the law as written—not as certain politicians wish it were.

DHS has the legal right and the moral obligation to investigate and detain those who break federal laws under our jurisdiction anywhere in the country.

Any local jurisdiction thinking that refusing to cooperate with ICE will result in a decrease in local immigration enforcement is mistaken.

ICE has no choice but to conduct more at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests instead of targeted arrests at the jail where enforcement is safer for everyone involved.

Residents should understand and continue to expect a more visible ICE presence in California while this non-cooperation Sanctuary City policy remains in effect.

Let me be clear: the individuals ICE lodges detainers against are not random illegal immigrants in our communities. ICE focuses its limited resources first and foremost by targeting those who pose the greatest threat to public safety.

Nationally, approximately 90 percent of all people arrested by ICE during fiscal year 2019 either had a criminal conviction, a pending criminal charge, had criminally re-entered the U.S. after being previously removed, or were an immigration fugitive subject to a final order of removal.

Again, these are not everyday people—they are hardened criminals who threaten American communities and put American lives at risk.

Operation Rise is proof-positive that we will never back down from enforcing the rule of law, with or without the cooperation of local political leaders.

Thanks to the men and women of ICE, Operation Rise is a stunning success, thus far.

In just five days, between September 28th and October 2nd, our brave officers in California arrested 128 illegal aliens wanted for some of the most heinous crimes imaginable.

Of those arrested, 96 percent had either criminal convictions or pending criminal charges for crimes including homicide, sexual assault, sexual offenses against children, aggravated assault, battery, domestic violence, and weapons offenses.

One of those arrested is a 40-year-old El Salvadorian who was convicted of first-degree murder in November 2009 and was sentenced to 25 years to life. In August, ICE issued a detainer for this individual, but the Los Angeles County Jail denied the request and instead inexplicably chose to release this murderer into the community they are sworn to protect.

Another of those arrested is a 35-year-old Mexican citizen who illegally reentered our country after he was deported. This individual was arrested for sexual intercourse with a minor in March 2016 and was later arrested for domestic violence and violation of a court order in January 2018. ICE issued a detainer for this person, but once again it was denied, this time by the San Diego County Jail, which then released this criminal back onto the streets.

Thanks to ICE’s remarkable efforts, these two felons will no longer be allowed to prey on American citizens. And while I am proud to see these criminals back behind bars, it is important to note they should have never been allowed to walk free in the first place.

Political leaders who support Sanctuary City policies must stop putting politics over the public safety of their cities. I hope that they will look at angel families and see the real, tragic consequences of their actions and the victims they could have protected simply by working with the Department to enforce the rule of law.

To any leaders who are enacting or proposing Sanctuary policies, I say this: Do your job. Uphold and follow the Constitution. Protect your communities. Cease these harmful policies and allow your local law enforcement officers to partner with DHS to protect American citizens. Your country and its people deserve better.

We all share a common moral and legal duty—to protect the American people, the Homeland, our communities, and the rule of law that keeps us free and safe. This responsibility should not be abdicated for any reason.

Again, I would like to thank the men and women of ICE for their hard work, dedication, service, and sacrifice. You have done a tremendous job despite the most difficult circumstances, and I am incredibly proud of you.

With that, I would like to turn it over to Acting Director Pham, who will provide details regarding the success of Operation Rise. Director Pham, the podium is yours.

Last Published Date: October 8, 2020
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