Local lawyers say more than 100 people were arrested by federal immigration authorities on Thursday, leading some to wonder if President Trump’s long-promised crackdown against undocumented immigrants had begun. The feds say the arrests were routine, but given the large numbers and varied locations, activists say the arrests were a coordinated effort.
“We know the daily patterns of people being picked up and taken,” Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), told The Washington Post. “There’s a natural flow of enforcement that happens every day. But this was not normal.”
CHIRLA receives a few calls about arrests on any given day.
Activists say that individuals who could not provide identification, and also with no criminal history, were among those arrested. If true, this would mark a departure from the Obama administration. Although it deported more people than any administration in history, Obama claimed publicly that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prioritized undocumented residents who had committed serious crimes. ICE says nothing has changed.
“Our operations are targeted and lead driven, prioritizing individuals who pose a risk to our communities. Examples would include known street gang members, child sex offenders, and deportable foreign nationals with significant drug trafficking convictions,” a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement told the L.A. Times. “To that end, ICE’s routine immigration enforcement actions are ongoing and we make arrests every day.”
On Thursday night protesters rallied downtown. They closed access to the 101 at one point, chanting “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here,” according to KTLA.
— Marcus Yam (@yamphoto) February 10, 2017
— Chris Gierowski (@tepall14) February 10, 2017
L.A. and Orange County are home to one million unauthorized immigrants, according to a new analysis published by the Pew Research Center. Cities throughout the state, including Los Angeles, have pledged themselves as “sanctuary cities,” and local law enforcement officials here have said they will not participate in federal immigration enforcement efforts.