Federal immigration agents have reportedly detained more than 100 people in ongoing sweeps in the Los Angeles area, targeting people in the country illegally.
The immigration enforcement operations, which began Sunday, are pursuing roughly 400 people across seven Southern California counties, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Danielle Bennett tells NPR in an email that the agency is going after “individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.”
Bennett blamed “uncooperative jurisdictions,” like Los Angeles, for making the agency use “additional resources to conduct at-large arrests in the community, putting officers, the general public and the aliens at risk and increasing the incidents of collateral arrests.”
The Los Angeles Police Department has limited cooperation with federal agents in enforcing immigration laws and conducting raids.
Police chief Charlie Beck wrote in December that the LAPD “is neither authorized nor responsible for the enforcement of civil immigration laws or regulations.” Local police and city officials say undocumented immigrants may not help with unrelated police investigations if they fear being targeted for deportation by coming forward.
Bennett said in the statement that ICE would “ideally” work “with local police and county jails to identify public safety threats in their custody who are also in the country illegally, for deportation.”
“Sanctuary cities are not immune from federal law,” she added.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has downplayed the use of the term “sanctuary city,” but told NPR last year, “we absolutely are a city that not only does provide sanctuary to immigrants, but we defend them.”
Earlier this month ICE agents demanded proof of legal status for employees at 77 businesses in Northern California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. And a few weeks before that, ICE raided 7-Eleven stores around the country in what The Two-Way reported was the largest action against one employer since President Trump took office.
The whole state of California began limiting cooperation with federal immigration officials this year after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill in October to create a “sanctuary state.” As Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler reported, “it bans state and local agencies, excluding the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, from enforcing ‘holds’ on people in custody. It blocks the deputization of police as immigration agents and bars state and local law enforcement agencies from inquiring into an individual’s immigration status.”
The Trump administration has pushed for increased deportations and attempted to punish cities that refused to cooperate by withholding federal funding, though a court ruled against the policy in November.
ICE arrests went up by more than 43 percent between late January and August 2017 compared with the same period a year earlier.
February 15, 2018 8:26 AM ET