U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which detained two undocumented Irishmen earlier this week in Boston on charges of fraudulently obtaining driver’s licenses, stated that is not specifically targeting the Boston Irish community.
Irish Central has also learned that the men first came to the attention of ICE investigators based on prior convictions for driving offenses.
“First and foremost, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not conduct ‘sweeps or raids’ to target illegal aliens indiscriminately. Our efforts in Massachusetts and nationwide are all targeted — targeting individuals that meet our civil immigration enforcement priorities,” ICE spokesperson Russ Feinstein said on Friday.
“Our first priority is targeting convicted criminal aliens that pose a threat to public safety.”
Feinstein said that last week’s arrests in Boston “are part of an on-going enforcement action targeting at-large, criminal aliens and others who pose threats to the community.
“ICE has adopted common sense policies nationwide that ensure our immigration laws are enforced in a way that best enhances public safety, border security and the integrity of the immigration system.’’
Sources told IrishCentral that the two Irishmen, who are currently being held at a detention center in Boston on charges of allegedly obtaining driver’s licenses with a fraudulent document , first came to the attention of authorities due to driving convictions.
On Thursday the Irish Pastoral Center made a statement that the ICE “conducted what appears to have been an orchestrated raid in Massachusetts taking into ICE custody a number of Irish immigrants.”
The center said, “A number of Irish immigrants have been altering their passports using fake visa stamps to obtain driver’s licenses. This may have been a factor in some detentions.”
No further information on the undocumented men’s status has been revealed, but their situation has caused great concern in the Irish community in Boston, especially among those who are undocumented.
Kieran C. O’Sullivan, counselor at the Irish Pastoral Center in Dorchester, told IrishCentral that there has been an outflow of a support for the men in the Irish community.
O’Sullivan especially thanked “Congressman Richard Neal’s staff who have reached out and offered their support.”
“Immigration attorneys have also responded to the IrishCentral article, and called us to offer legal representation to Irish immigrants in need.”
“Our offices have been inundated with calls from nervous undocumented immigrants worried about further detentions. The detention of Irish immigrants remains a major concern of ours,” he added.
O’Sullivan and the center team, including chaplain Father John McCarthy, provide support for those who have been detained, and their families.
“These detentions and subsequent incarceration of hard working Irish immigrants underscores the immediate need for comprehensive immigration reform so our immigrants can regularize their status in the U.S.,” O’Sullivan added.
The IPC will be holding free immigration counseling on May 7 at The Banshee, 934 Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester at 6:30 pm.