U.S. immigration authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least a half-dozen states this week in a series of raids that marked the first large-scale enforcement of President Trump’s Jan. 25 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.
Officials said the raids targeted known criminals, but they also netted some immigrants without criminal records, an apparent departure from similar enforcement waves during the Obama administration. Last month, Trump substantially broadened the scope of who the Department of Homeland Security can target to include those with minor offenses or no convictions at all.
Trump has pledged to deport as many as 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.
Immigration officials confirmed that agents this week raided homes and workplaces in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina and South Carolina, netting hundreds of people. But Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said they were part of “routine” immigration enforcement actions. ICE dislikes the term “raids,” and prefers to say authorities are conducting “targeted enforcement actions,” she said.
Christensen said the raids, which began Monday and ended Friday at noon, found undocumented immigrants from a dozen Latin American countries. “We’re talking about people who are threats to public safety or a threat to the integrity of the immigration system,” she said, noting that the majority of those detained were serious criminals, including some who were convicted of murder and domestic violence.
Immigration activists said the crackdown went beyond the six states DHS identified, and said they had also documented ICE raids of unusual intensity during the past two days in Florida, Kansas, Texas and Northern Virginia.
That undocumented immigrants with no criminal records were arrested and could potentially be deported sent a shock wave through immigrant communities nationwide amid concerns that the U.S. government could start going after law-abiding people.
“This is clearly the first wave of attacks under the Trump administration, and we know this isn’t going to be the only one,” Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream, an immigrant youth organization, said Friday during a conference call with immigration advocates.
ICE agents in the Los Angeles area Thursday took a number of individuals into custody over the course of an hour, seizing them from their homes and on their way to work, activists said.
David Marin, ICE’s field director in the Los Angeles area, said in a conference call with reporters Friday that 75 percent of the approximately 160 people detained in the operation this week had felony convictions; the rest had misdemeanors or were in the United States illegally. Officials said Friday night that 37 of those detained in Los Angeles had been deported to Mexico.
“Dangerous criminals who should be deported are being released into our communities,” Marin said.
Spanish language radio stations and the local NPR affiliate in Los Angeles have been running public service announcements regarding the hourly “Know Your Rights” seminars the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles scheduled for Friday and Saturday. By the time the 4 p.m. group began Friday, more than 100 others had gathered at the group’s office in the Westlake neighborhood just outside downtown.
A video that circulated on social media Friday appeared to show ICE agents in Texas detaining people in an Austin shopping center parking lot. Immigration advocates also reported roadway checkpoints, where ICE appeared to be targeting immigrants for random ID checks, in North Carolina and in Austin. ICE officials denied that authorities used checkpoints during the operations.Read More...
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