ICE rounds up 50 undocumented immigrants in Northern Kentucky

ICE agents are no longer handcuffed by Obama’s restrictive guidelines, and undocumented immigrants should be worried, says ICE official.

Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 22 people as part of a two-day enforcement action on Dec. 6 and 7 in Northern Kentucky, according to ICE.

Of the 22 arrests, 12 were immigration fugitives, according to Florence-based attorney Alexandria Lubans-Otto, who is a liaison to ICE for the American Immigration Lawyers Association of Kentucky.

Immigration fugitives either re-entered the country after being deported or failed to leave the country after being issued a final order of removal. They are not eligible for an immigration bond or an immigration hearing.

The 12 immigration fugitives were transferred to Chicago on Dec. 11 where a judge was to sign off on their orders of deportation, according to Lubans-Otto. After processing in Chicago, they will be transferred to a staging area near the border, then deported, she said.

Of the remaining 10 detainees, four were subject to detention without bond and six were eligible for release on bond, averaging $10,000 for each detainee. The bonds must be paid in full by money order or cashier’s check. There is an opportunity for detainees to request a custody or bond redetermination by an immigration judge.

ICE arrest by Kelly Lowery –, Public Domain,

ICE agents also made about 30 arrests of “removable aliens” whom agents encountered in Northern Kentucky during the lead-up to the targeted enforcement action on Dec. 6 and 7, according to Lubans-Otto.

Removable aliens include undocumented immigrants–foreign nationals who may or may not have committed a criminal offense, but are unlawfully present in the United States. Removable aliens also include “green card” holders and visa holders who are lawfully present in the country, but have committed a removable criminal offense.

President Obama, starting in November 2014, enforced immigration laws based on priorities of risk to public safety.  In Fiscal Year 2016, 13 percent of the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants were an enforcement priority, 87 percent were not, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

For the Obama administration, the highest priority group included removable aliens who were convicted of felonies or aggravated felonies, gang members, and national security threats. In FY 2016, 94 percent of all deportations came from this highest priority group, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

On Jan. 25, just days after his inauguration, President Trump issued an executive order saying that “faithful execution” of immigration law “against all removable aliens” is the policy of the United States.

“Under the current administration, everyone is a priority,” says Lubans-Otto.

Unless specifically exempted, the executive order appears to target all 11 million undocumented immigrants for deportation, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

The recipients of DACA–Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals–were exempted from the executive order under the implementing memo from the Department of Homeland Security. However, the administration subsequently terminated the DACA program in September. Without new legislation to authorize it, about 800,000 DACA recipients, who had entered the country as minors, will eventually become subject to deportation like other removable aliens.

About 12,000 DACA recipients who missed an Oct. 5 deadline, are already subject to deportation. That number is increasing by nearly 100 each day as other DACA permits expire.

The stated focus of the administration’s executive order is criminal aliens, but the term “criminal” is broadly defined. It covers not just removable aliens convicted of a felony, but also those who have been convicted of a misdemeanor, charged with a criminal offense, or have committed a chargeable criminal offense, or, in the judgment of an immigration officer, pose a risk to public safety or national security.

Also, the “criminal” activity may have occurred at any time in a person’s past. Based on ICE enforcement, there appears to be no statute of limitations.

President Trump has “taken the handcuffs off of law enforcement officers who are charged with enforcing immigration laws,” said then-acting ICE director Thomas D. Homan in May.

“If you are in this country illegally, you need to be worried,” said Homan.

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Photo by Michael Fleshman,, under Creative Commons.

In the US, more than 8 million citizens live with at least one family member who is undocumented. Most of these U.S. citizens are children–almost six million–under the age of 18 who live with an undocumented parent or family member.

Edgar is one of the four detainees being held without bond in the Boone County Jail, although his only offense is one citation for driving without a license, says his attorney Lubans-Otto. For her, Edgar is a typical detainee: young, hardworking, the family’s sole breadwinner, and the father of two children born in the United States, who are cared for by their stay-at-home mother. One child, who is just four years old, has “serious medical issues,” she says.


Edgar’s case, including a request for release on bond, will be heard in immigration court in Chicago. But Lubans-Otto is unable to schedule a court date. She has been advised that the earliest date will be sometime in January.

Fear of deportation can have significantly adverse effects on the long-term health and development of children. Detention or deportation of the breadwinner, usually the man of the house, can deprive families of the basic necessities of food, shelter, and utilities. Parents subject to deportation may face the difficult issue of whether to take their children with them or risk the possibility of losing custody to child protective services.

The organization Supporting Latino Families in Northern Kentucky is organizing resources to address the needs of families affected by the ICE raids. Donations for basic needs can be made here and donations for legal assistance here.

Meanwhile, immigration lawyers and activists are trying to better understand what happened in Northern Kentucky–who was arrested, why, and under what circumstances.

Preliminary reports indicate that ICE did not notify local law enforcement agencies or seek their cooperation. There are also preliminary reports of pretextual traffic stops, searches without warrants or probable cause, using false pretense and force to gain entry to apartments, assault, a workplace raid, brief detention of a U.S. citizen, and the arrest of a long-term legal permanent resident.


The agency responsible for the Northern Kentucky raids was the field office of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations based in Chicago, which covers a six-state region including Kentucky and Indiana, but not Ohio. ICE ERO agents from the Chicago office were supported by one or more ICE Fugitive Operations Teams, which are managed from a national office.

If you have information about the NKY ICE arrests, please contact the reporter.

By Mike Brown,