ITHACA, N.Y. — A man was taken into custody Tuesday in Ithaca by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, an official confirmed late Wednesday night.

Khaalid Walls, regional director of communications for ICE, said in an emailed statement that the man’s arrest was part of an “ongoing criminal investigation.” He refused to comment about what the investigation entails or if the man is being charged, but said the person is an “unlawfully present foreign national” who is in ICE custody following an arrest from special agents with the Homeland Security Investigations.

The man is the third person to be taken into custody this month in the city of Ithaca.

On Jan. 9, two people were taken into custody by ICE while they were working at Taste of Thai, a restaurant on the Ithaca Commons.

Mayor Svante Myrick has repeatedly said that the Department of Homeland Security contacts city officials when they are operating within Ithaca, but they do not tell officials whether the work they are doing is immigration related. The Ithaca Police Department is also not informed whether ICE is working within the city on any particular day, Officer Jamie Williamson has said multiple times.

The arrest of the man Tuesday is part of an increase in ICE arrests in Ithaca and a decrease in information being released about the arrests.

For instance, when Mexican national José Guzman-Lopez was taken into custody in May while he was walking down the street, it was the first arrest in the city by ICE in recent memory, according to local police officers and politicians.

ICE released a statement at the time identifying Guzman-Lopez and indicating why he was taken into custody and what he was charged with.

ICE, however, has released nearly no details regarding the arrest of the two men from Taste of Thai, refusing to release their names or if they are charged with anything.

Reports have indicated that officials are targeting sanctuary cities as locations to arrest undocumented immigrants as a new federal administration cracks down on deportations of people.

The city of Ithaca and Tompkins County are both considered “sanctuary” areas. That means people’s immigration status is only inquired about if it relates to a crime being committed. It also means that police officers throughout the county and governmental officials do not cooperate in performing tasks for federal police agencies.

It does not, however, prevent federal police agencies from working within the county.

Featured image by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Department of Homeland Security), via Wikimedia Commons.

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.