U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers detain a suspect as they conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Los Angeles. Photo by Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via REUTERS

San Diego County is home to 170,000 undocumented immigrants, but apparently wasn’t a target in a series of federal raids that arrested hundreds across the United States.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement service told the San Diego Union-Tribune that rumors of raids in north San Diego County were unfounded.

“Rumors currently being circulated, primarily on social media, claiming the agency is conducting widespread traffic stops throughout northern San Diego County are completely baseless,” ICE said. “The agency is working diligently to address these false reports and we urge the media not to give them credence.”

In Southern California, raids were carried out in Los Angeles and five surrounding counties beginning Monday and ending around noon Friday. ICE said the operations targeted “at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and immigration fugitives.” A total of 161 people were arrested.

David Marin, director of enforcement and removal for the Los Angeles field office of ICE, described the raids as an “enforcement surge” but also as routine.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said the number of deportations of Mexicans from the United States had not increased, and was in fact slightly lower that average.

Still, the raids sparked anxiety among immigrants, their families and advocacy groups.

“The fear coursing through immigrant homes and the native-born Americans who love immigrants as friends and family is palpable,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “Reports of raids in immigrant communities are a grave concern.”

The San Diego office of the American Civil Liberties Union re-tweeted a list of six steps to take if ICE agents show up:

The Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego promoted a free, 24-hour hotline on its website offering help with detention or other immigration issues.

Videgaray said Mexican consulates throughout the United States were receiving phone calls from worried citizens, telling Reuters the volume of calls has “grown exponentially.”

— From Staff and Wire Reports

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.