BOSTON — Dozens of people suspected of living in the country illegally were apprehended in a series of sweeps in New England this week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Friday.
Agents arrested 58 people in raids in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Connecticut, officials said. The arrests happened over five days ending Dec. 4.
Thirty of the people have prior felony convictions for serious or violent offenses, and 33 have criminal charges pending, immigration officials said. Nine had been previously deported, and 15 had been previously released by local authorities despite the federal agency's request to hold them.
Among those rounded up were a 67-year-old native of Brazil arrested in Lynn, Massachusetts, who is wanted for murder in Brazil, as well as a 59-year old Brazilian arrested in Putnam, Connecticut, who is also wanted in that country for murder, according to ICE.
Others apprehended in the sweep include citizens of Jamaica, France, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Boston and a number of other New England communities are considered "sanctuary cities" where local officials limit their involvement in federal immigration matters.
The agency has "no alternative" but to periodically conduct large-scale immigration enforcement sweeps, Todd Lyons, acting director of ICE's Boston's field office overseeing New England, said in a statement. That, he said, is because "sanctuary jurisdictions including Boston" do not honor ICE detainers and limit their involvement in federal immigration matters.
"Ultimately, efforts by local politicians have shielded removable criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and created another magnet for more illegal immigration, all at the expense of the safety and security of the very people it purports to protect," Lyons said.
A message seeking comment was left with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh's office.