SARATOGA SPRINGS – Federal Agents conducted an operation Tuesday morning in Saratoga Springs, arresting 16 “unlawfully present foreign nationals,” according to an email statement issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in response to an inquiry seeking information regarding Tuesday’s events.
Special agents and officers with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and Enforcement and Removal Operations conducted the operation following an ongoing investigation, according to the organization.
The men - one Guatemalan national and 15 Mexican nationals - are between the ages of 19 and 49 and currently face administrative immigration violations.
Jeff Many looked out his Division Street office window Tuesday morning and watched the activity going on in the parking lot below. As a long white van sat in the lot, a variety of cars and SUV’s periodically pulled next to it, transferring men in handcuffs from the smaller vehicles into the van, he said.
“I noticed the white van in the lot at around 7:30 in the morning. A female driver stayed behind with the van while the cars and SUV’s would leave then come back around every 20 minutes or so,” Many said. “This went on until 10 or 11.”
City police were informed of the arrival of federal agents, but played no role in the event, said Saratoga Springs Police Lt. Bob Jillson. “We were made aware of it. They let us know they were in town, but we weren’t a part of it. No other agencies were involved as far as I know.”
Nine of the men are facing potential federal felony charges for re-entry after deportation or visa fraud and are currently being held at the Albany County Correctional Facility.
According to the federal agency, the investigation is ongoing and no further information will be released at this time.
Late Thursday, city Mayor Joanne Yepsen released the following statement regarding the event:
I have spoken to top level Homeland Security officials to obtain as much information as permitted. ICE (U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcements) is carrying out the law and national agenda through ongoing investigations and targeted arrests. I absolutely respect the federal agency's authority to keep our cities and nation safe. My concern, as the Mayor of Saratoga Springs, is that we are a community that relies significantly on the hospitality and racing industry workforce. The well-timed, newly formed City Human Rights Task Force will be working diligently to conduct education, information and awareness raising activities and presentations, including the immigration process and why it's so difficult.