LOS ANGELES >> About 100 people were arrested in the Los Angeles area during a four-day nationwide immigration sweep targeting so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, federal authorities announced Thursday.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said “Operation Safe City,” which ended Wednesday, targeted people who have “violated U.S. immigration laws, prioritizing aliens with criminal convictions, pending criminal charges, known gang members and affiliates, immigration fugitives and those who re-entered the U.S. after deportation.”
Agents targeted regions “where ICE deportation officers are denied access to jails and prisons to interview suspected immigration violators or jurisdictions where ICE detainers are not honored,” according to the agency.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration,” ICE Acting Director Tom Homan said. “As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”
No one who is registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which provides protection from deportation for people brought to the country illegally as children by their parents — were targeted in the operation, officials said.
Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, called the raids a politically motivated action by a “rogue agency.”
“We have a hard time believing anything ICE has to tell us about those it arrested this week in this dastardly operation,” Salas said. “But we are very clear that ICE’s actions make our cities unsafe and inflict terror on millions in communities that just want to live with security and liberty.
“We are deeply troubled by this politically motivated and cruel form of immigration enforcement and call on Congress to investigate who exactly is being targeted and why,” she said.
A total of 498 people were arrested nationally. The most arrests, 107, were made in Philadelphia, followed by Los Angeles with 101.
Other raids were conducted in Santa Clara County; Baltimore; Cook County, Illinois; Denver; New York; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; and the state of Massachusetts.
According to ICE, among those arrested in Los Angeles was a documented gang member who entered the country illegally and rammed multiple law enforcement vehicles while trying to evade authorities. He was found to be in possession of a loaded handgun, and is facing charges including assault with a deadly weapon and carrying a concealed firearm.
The 498 people arrested in the operation came from 42 countries, according to ICE.
Matthew Albence, ICE executive associate director for enforcement and removal operations, said that despite “resistance” in some communities, ICE will carry out its duties.
“We are never going to stop enforcing the laws (as) we are authorized and required to do,” Albence said. “And if we need to go into these communities every week, we will.”
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