San Jose Police Chief Chris Moore has cut loose two federal immigration agents just two months after being heavily criticized by community groups for his decision to bring in the agents to combat gang violence. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents reportedly helped the city’s METRO unit arrest 215 gang members during the time they were here.
The reasons given for no longer needing the assistance of the two ICE agents, who were loaned to San Jose through a federal grant, was that homicides related to gangs have stopped completely in the last two months. There were 14 gang-related murders this year prior to their arrival.
Jason Dwyer, a police public information officer, reportedly said that community activists criticizing the decision to bring in federal immigration agents played only a minor role in letting the agents go. Activists have said bringing in the agents was an example of Moore going back on his word, and that it fostered distrust in minority communities and made illegal immigrants less comfortable to report crime for fear of deportation.
“Are we crumbling to the community pressure? Absolutely not,” Dwyer told the Mercury News. “If we were still getting bombarded with homicides, those guys wouldn’t be going anywhere. We accomplished what we set out to do, we’ve completely stopped” the gang homicides.
While there have been no homicides since the ICE agents came to San Jose, from an outside perspective it’s difficult to determine just how large a role they played. The METRO 38-person unit made gangs its sole focus during that time.