ICE Targets Southern California in ‘Sanctuary City’ Crackdown

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An Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer escorts a suspected undocumented immigrant. Courtesy ICE

A federal immigration crackdown targeting people who “pose a threat to national security” in the greater Los Angeles area this week has resulted in dozens of arrests, with authorities confirming that immigration enforcement is being stepped up in “uncooperative jurisdictions.”

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, “working on leads developed by the local field office in conjunction with the Pacific Enforcement Response Center, have already arrested a number of individuals who are in violation of federal U.S. immigration laws,” ICE press secretary Jennifer D. Elzea said.

“ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately,” she said. “However, ICE no longer exempts classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”

Elzea did not say how many people have been arrested since the operations began Sunday, but according various media outlets reported that at least 100 people had been detained so far.

The L.A. Raids Rapid Response Network, a network of civil rights lawyers and community organizers, said it condemned the apparent increase in immigration enforcement operations by ICE in Southern California.

“On a day when love permeates the air, ICE has made it their business to expand its reign of terror across the land targeting immigrant communities,” according to the group, referring to Valentine’s Day.

“ICE continues to function as a rogue organization, motivated by hate and retaliation,” according to the network. “Not only has ICE thrown discretion out the window but it has also been engaging in unconstitutional tactics by lying, intimidating and threatening community members while carrying out the arrests.”

The raids come during an increased crackdown on illegal immigration by President Donald Trump, who promised during his campaign to step up enforcement.

According to the ICE statement, the agency “focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. This means that, ideally, we are working with local police and county jails to identify public safety threats in their custody, who are also in the country illegally, for deportation.”

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck has said his officers would not take an active role in enforcing civil immigration laws. Elzea indicated that such a stance could bring risk to the community.

“While the vast majority of cities in America do cooperate with ICE, others force ICE to focus additional resources to conduct at-large arrests in the community, putting officers, the general public and the aliens at greater risk and increasing the incidents of collateral arrests,” she said. “That is what ICE is now doing in Los Angeles, and what ICE will continue to do in uncooperative jurisdictions. Sanctuary cities are not immune from federal law.”

She added that because the operation remains ongoing, “we will not be providing any additional information until its conclusion, nor will we speculate on future operations.”

— City News Service

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