The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) launched a billboard campaign in Pennsylvania on Friday showing the faces of undocumented immigrants wanted by the agency, in order to educate the public about the dangers of non-cooperation policies of the localities called “sanctuary” cities.
The billboards expose immigration offenders, including several Latinos, who according to ICE “may pose a threat to public safety.”
“These individuals were previously arrested or convicted of crimes in the United States, but were released into the community rather than transferred to ICE custody pursuant to an immigration detainer,” the agency said in a statement.
Among the immigrants exposed is the Ecuadorian Lauro Peralta-Veles, 51, whom immigration authorities are looking for for his undocumented presence in the country.
ICE notes that Peralta-Veles was arrested by the Pittsburgh Police Department on June 20 for aggravated battery, intoxication on public roads, resisting arrest and disturbing the public order. The federal agency filed a request for detention in the Allegheny County jail, but due to sanctuary laws in effect in that area the request was not honored and the subject was released, the agency argues.
“Too often, sanctuary policies that limit cooperation with ICE result in significant public safety concerns,” said Tony H. Pham, who serves as the director of ICE.
The agency’s action comes a few days after an ICE plan to carry out selective operations in “sanctuary” cities came to light. The plan, revealed by The Washington Post, will be carried out during the month of October. and it would start in California.
ICE’s actions are expected to expand to cities such as Denver and Philadelphia, according to two officials, who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity.
Activists and defenders of immigrants have classified the actions as a political action in favor of President Donald Trump a month before the elections of November 3
“This is an entirely political move,” said Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborers Network, an organization that promoted the laws that made California a sanctuary state.
“Trump wants to motivate his xenophobic and racist bases not to stay at home on November 3. It is simply an electoral strategy that is going to cause a lot of pain and suffering to our undocumented people,” Alvarado insisted.
For his part, Pham stressed that “ICE will continue to enforce the immigration laws established by Congress through the efforts of its agents to expel criminal aliens and make our communities safer.”