In total, 123 undocumented people were picked up in NJ. Many of them had DUI charges or convictions, a crime now punishable by deportation

By Carly Baldwin, Patch Staff | Apr 16, 2019 4:16 pm ET | Updated Apr 16, 2019 8:48 pm ET

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The federal office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement did targeted raids in dozens of New Jersey municipalities last month, picking up undocumented immigrants who had recently been arrested for DUI. Princeton and New Brunswick were on the list.

In total, 123 people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally were picked up and detained. The majority of those 123 had either been arrested for, or convicted of DUI. But some had other crimes in their backgrounds.

"The operation took place between February 19 and March 20," ICE spokesman Emilio Dabul told Patch. "These were not 'raids,' but a targeted enforcement operation that focused on (undocumented immigrants) with arrests and/or convictions for the offense of DUI. Of those arrested during the operation, 90 percent had prior criminal convictions and/or pending criminal charges. Most were arrested or previously convicted for the offense of DUI."

In addition to New Brunswick, nearby towns included in the "sweep" were Trenton, South Plainfield, Perth Amboy, Hillsborough, Dunellen and Bound Brook. The raids were done at towns all over New Jersey. In total, 14 people were arrested in Middlesex County.

Trump dramatically increased the type of crimes that are punishable by deportation. Under the Trump administration, even a single, one-time DUI charge can make someone eligible to be picked up by ICE, and have deportation proceedings begun. Under the Obama administration, a DUI charge or even a conviction did not make an illegal immigrant eligible for deportation proceedings. The offense was not considered serious enough for removal.

In some of the cases, a DUI charge triggered ICE officials to unearth more serious crimes in their past. For example, in Plainfield, they picked up a 42-year-old Ecuadorian national, who had a recent arrest for DUI. He also had a prior conviction for criminal sexual contact and had been deported from the U.S. once before in the past, ICE said.

While the majority of those arrested in this sweep had DUI convictions or charges, some had other arrests or convictions for crimes such as: Sexual assault on a minor, child abuse, possession of narcotics, distribution of narcotics, fraud, criminal restraint, domestic violence, possession of a weapon, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, endangering the welfare of a child, fraud, promoting gambling, shoplifting, burglary, forgery and illegal reentry.

The 123 arrested were nationals of Brazil (3), Costa Rica (3), Dominican Republic (1), Ecuador (16), El Salvador (, Guatemala (24), Honduras (14), Jamaica (1), Mexico (41), Nicaragua (1), Peru (6), Poland (2), Spain (2), and Trinidad (1).

Here are some of the people detained last month:

In Red Bank, a 30-year-old Mexican national, who has convictions for DUI and endangering the welfare of a child;
In Princeton, a 38-year-old previously deported Guatemalan national, who has convictions for aggravated assault and possession of a weapon
In Morristown, a 50-year-old Honduran national, who has convictions for DUI and burglary;
In Newark, a 41-year-old Peruvian national, who has convictions for DUI, distribution of marijuana, shoplifting, and promoting gambling;
In Somerset, a 32-year-old Mexican national, who has convictions for DUI and endangering abuse/neglect of a person;
In Plainfield, a 42-year-old previously deported Ecuadorian national, who has a prior conviction for criminal sexual contact and a recent arrest for DUI;
In West New York, a 27-year-old previously deported Honduran national, who has a conviction for criminal restraint/risk serious bodily injury and active warrants for the offenses of DUI, domestic violence and disorderly conduct.;
In Neptune, a 39-year-old Mexican national, who has convictions for DUI, endangering-sexual contact with a minor, unlawful taking a means of conveyance and simple assault;
In Hamilton, a 38-year-old previously deported Mexican national, who has convictions for DUI and indecent assault of a minor.

Here is the full press release from ICE: