by Angela Vega
Immigrant communities all across the country faced several nerve-wracking days as United States immigration services have reportedly arrested close to 700 people in the last week alone. The week’s series of raids initiated the first of several large-scale immigration enforcement planned under President Trump since his January 25 executive order to carry out wide scale searches for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in America.
Raids were reported in over 11 states including, New York, California, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Missouri. In the Los Angeles (LA) area alone, 161 individuals were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with raids carried out in LA, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.
Within the city of LA, 28 arrests were netted during the five-day raid, 26 of those taking place in the San Fernando Valley according to a fact sheet released by ICE on Monday, February 13. Since then, ICE has refused to release names or allow detainees to see attorneys according to Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of L.A. Director of Policy Joseph Villa.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claimed to only target immigrants who posed as threats to public safety such as convicted criminals and gang members.
“The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!” Trump tweeted.
ICE officials, however, reported the arrests made in the last week were under the usual routine enforcement efforts. Similar arrests were made under Obama’s presidency, with as many as 2000 arrests made in just one day in the spring of 2015 according to ICE. On the other hand, arrests made under Obama’s administration were against wanted fugitives and convicted criminals, whereas the arrests made in the last week included immigrants whose only offense was an immigration violation, according to NBC News.
In only three weeks following Trump’s inauguration, ICE reported 100 detained immigrants in only three hours in LA. Many took to the streets of LA and an ICE detention center to protest against the immigration crackdown. Local protesters are alarmed at the volume of reports of arrests, emphasizing an obvious bias against immigrant rights.
“This is just one more action by this administration that hurts our communities and our economy. I will not sit quietly by while they seek to harm the people of my district,” U.S. Representative Tony Cárdenas wrote in a statement to KTLA News.