NEWARK - Thirty-six immigrants with criminal records or charges, formerly in Middlesex County Jail, are re-arrested and charged with evading U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after release, in a sweep that gave agency officials an opportunity to address the sanctuary city movement..

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They were detained during a five-day search, October 16 through 20, by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), that homed in on criminal aliens in Middlesex County, officials said. The nationals of 15 countries allegedly failed to honor the ICE detainer, or failed to notify ICE of release.

ERO Field Office Director John Tsoukaris issued a harsh assessment of the handicap that policies in many communities and counties place on ICE agents.

"Counties like Middlesex that have policies specifically tailored to protect criminal aliens and in essence assist criminals in undermining federal law, not only create a dangerous environment in the community, but also place an undue burden on local law enforcement. ICE will continue to execute its mission in such communities," Tsoukaris said in prepared comments.

The arrestees, from 19 to 62 years of age, are natives of Anguila, Belize, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Kenya, Mexico, Paraguy, the Philippines, Trinidad and Turkey.

Among the previous charges or convictions listed by authoriteis are sexual assault of a minor, child abuse, criminal restraint of a minor, domestic violence, drug possession, drug distribution, robbery, receiving stolen property, theft, aggravated assault, hindering apprehension, resisting an officer, driving under the influence, unsworn falsificaiton, weapons possession, burglary, prostitution, and illegal re-entry to the U.S.

Data supplied by ICE counted 240,255 removals from the U.S.,nationwide in 2016, with over 90 percent involving previous convictions. Officials said that they collaborate with federal, state and local authorities on "smart, effective" immigration enforcement that targets aliens posing the greatest threat to communities.

Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.

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