A federal operation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested more than 450 undocumented immigrants in "sanctuary cities."
ICE officials said Thursday that "Operation Safe City" targeted undocumented immigrants in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver, Washington and Baltimore over the course of four days. According to ICE, of the 498 people arrested this week, 317 had criminal convictions.
ICE deemed some of the cities targeted in the operation as sanctuary cities because they have vocally opposed President Trump's new deportation policies and have refused to cooperate with immigration authorities.
Tom Homan, ICE's acting director, said that sanctuary cities are enabling immigrants to stay in this country illegally.
"Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration," Homan said in a statement. "As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities."
ABC News reported that that Department of Homeland Security was originally going to carry out this operation weeks earlier. However, hurricanes Harvey and Maria impeded the plans.
"ICE's goal is to build cooperative, respectful relationships with our law enforcement partners to help prevent dangerous criminal aliens from being released back onto the streets," Homan said.