Pulling some out of their beds and snatching others at their jobs or off the streets, federal agents and Suffolk police conducted early morning raids Wednesday to round up 27 undocumented immigrants who are convicted sex offenders and place them in deportation proceedings.
About 60 police officers, probation officers and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents participated in the sweep, part of a nationwide Homeland Security initiative called Operation Predator. Since July 2003, the sweeps have caught 5,000 sexual predators who should have been deported after they were released from prison, authorities said.
Many of the local predators’ victims were between 6 and 12 years old, authorities said.
Some pro-immigrant groups who clashed with Levy over his deputization idea said Wednesday they support deporting undocumented immigrants who commit serious crimes. But they noted that all of the immigrants arrested Wednesday were from Latin America, and said that by focusing a spotlight on such people Levy is continuing to perpetuate a false image of a Latino crime wave in Suffolk.
“He’s giving the perception that in Suffolk County the Latino community is a criminal community, either as gangs or rapists or sex offenders,” said Nadia Marin-Molina, executive director of the Hempstead-based Workplace Project.