U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested at least a dozen illegal immigrants with previous charges or convictions related to child exploitation following a national operation, the agency confirmed Friday.
The arrests were made in Alaska, Washington state, Oregon and Texas.
At least 171 illegal immigrants have been arrested in 25 cities nationwide with pending charges or convictions for murder, homicide or sexual assault against children.
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“Noncitizens who commit repugnant acts at the expense of children will not be allowed to claim our great nation as their home,” ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Seattle Field Office Director Drew Bostock said in a release.
He added, “The arrests ERO Seattle made during this national operation are an example of the constant contributions we make locally to keep the U.S. safe from child predators.”
The nationwide investigation dubbed Operation Night Guard was conducted Jan. 16-28.
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“We are extremely pleased with the results of this operation,” ERO Harlingen (Texas) Field Office Director Miguel Vergara said in a statement. “The arrests are a testament to ERO’s commitment to arrest and remove those who undermine the safety of our communities and the integrity of U.S. immigration laws.”
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Arrests in the Pacific Northwest and Texas included:
- A 34-year-old citizen of Mexico in Los Fresnos, Texas, convicted of sexual assault of a child.
- A 58-year-old citizen of Mexico in Laredo, Texas, convicted of felony attempted indecency by contact.
- A 62-year-old citizen of Mexico in Edinburg, Texas, convicted of felony indecency with a child, sexual contact.
- A 49-year-old citizen of Mexico in Laredo, Texas, convicted of felony indecency with a child, exposes.
- A 53-year-old citizen of El Salvador in Tacoma, Washington, convicted of felony child molestation in the first degree, child molestation in the second degree, and rape of a child in the third degree.
- A 42-year-old citizen of Mexico in Moses Lake, Washington, convicted of dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
- A 39-year-old citizen of Mexico in Federal Way, Washington, convicted of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.
- A 69-year-old citizen of Mexico in Yakima, Washington, convicted of dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
- A 58-year-old citizen of Mexico in Yakima, Washington, convicted of child molestation in the first degree, child molestation in the second degree, and rape of a child in the third degree.
- A 43-year-old citizen of Mexico in Woodburn, Oregon, who was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor.
And on Thursday, ERO Los Angeles announced it had apprehended 26 illegal immigrants also with pending charges or convictions for murder, homicide and assault against children.
The arrests come as huge numbers of migrants are crossing into the U.S. illegally under the Biden administration, including in December when there were 302,034 migrant encounters.
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The issue has become one politically fraught for President Biden just months ahead of the election and one Republicans have seized on, many of whom are criticizing a Senate-backed bipartisan border bill that House Speaker Mike Johnson has said may be “dead on arrival.”
In fiscal year 2023, the ERO arrested 73,822 migrants with criminal charges, including sexual assault, homicide and kidnapping.