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ICE launches new immigration sweep in L.A. area; at least 100 detained so far

15 Feb

By Cindy Carcamo, Los Angeles Times

Federal officials are in the midst of an immigration enforcement operation in the Los Angeles area and have so far detained more than 100 people suspected of being in violation of immigration laws.

The sweep, which began Sunday, is focusing on “individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez said.

“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,” Rodriguez said in a written statement.

But “uncooperative jurisdictions” such as Los Angeles, she said, have forced ICE agents to “conduct at-large arrests in the community, putting officers, the general public and the aliens at greater risk, and increasing the incidence of collateral arrests.”

“That is what ICE is now doing in Los Angeles, and what ICE will continue to do in uncooperative jurisdictions,” Rodriguez said.

The Los Angeles Police Department and many other California law enforcement agencies have said they will not cooperate with ICE on sweeps. The LAPD has long had a policy that prevents officers from asking people about their immigration status, a rule designed to encourage those here illegally to cooperate with law enforcement in criminal investigations.

Rodriguez said the agency would not release additional information about the ongoing sweep until it came to a close. She wouldn’t say when that would be.

The operation is taking place in the agency’s Los Angeles area of responsibility, which includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Trump administration officials have warned that ICE might target California for more immigration raids, citing the state’s efforts to create “sanctuary” protection for those here illegally. ICE has not said whether the L.A. raids were part of a larger California crackdown.

The operation follows an immigration sweep a couple of weeks ago in which agents raided 77 businesses in Northern California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Immigration officials demanded proof that employees were legally allowed to work in the U.S. It is believed to be the largest such localized operation of workplace enforcement by ICE since President Trump took office.

This week’s raids come at a time when Trump has pushed for a sweeping crackdown on the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally. He and U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions contend that law enforcement agencies should give immigration agents limitless access to jails and delay releasing immigrants from custody so that agents can detain them.

Law enforcement and city officials in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other municipalities have ignored those demands and instead enacted policies or passed laws that restrict what authorities can do for immigration agents. Some conservative communities have also resisted holding on to inmates for ICE out of fear that doing so is illegal.

In response, Sessions has lashed out against cities deemed to be uncooperative and threatened to withhold funding — a move that courts have found to be unconstitutional.