Brett Hoffland
Updated: October 28, 2020 06:16 PM
Created: October 28, 2020 04:44 PM

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested more than 100 people who were in the United States illegally during a recent nationwide operation.

More than two dozen of those arrests happened in Minnesota.

ICE officials said the vast majority of individuals arrested have criminal convictions or pending charges, and emphasized that the operation was all about public safety.

Over five days, officers with ICE hit six different states, arresting those who they said are in the U.S. illegally and pose a threat to others.

"More than 70% of those arrested have criminal records," said Tony Pham, ICE director.

A total of 104 people were arrested during "Operation Granite," and 31 were in Minnesota. Some of the crimes the individuals were connected to include sexual exploitation of a child, sexual assault and domestic violence.

"ICE's immigration authority helped ensure the perpetrators arrested during the past several weeks can no longer inflict the pain and suffering of domestic violence on their victims. We will not allow that," Pham said.

Pham criticized sanctuary cities and jurisdictions that protect illegal immigrants, calling it a disservice to the country.

"The city of Minneapolis is a welcoming city," said Michelle Rivero, director of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs for the city of Minneapolis.

Rivero questioned the timing of Wednesday's press conference with the election next week and the current state of the pandemic.

"We welcome all of our communities, including our immigrant and refugee and new American communities," Rivero said.

Rivero said 15% of the Minneapolis population is immigrants and refugees. She added that part of what makes it a "welcoming city" includes a separation ordinance that supports these populations.

"A call to law enforcement or a law enforcement activity with [Minneapolis Police Department] will not result in a call to immigration customs enforcement. That really is an important facet in building trust between MPD and immigrant and refugee communities," Rivero said.

All of the people arrested in Operation Granite remain in ICE custody pending removal to their individual countries.