Hundreds of undocumented immigrants were rounded up this week in a half-dozen states in what advocacy groups and a
ICE officials reported 161 arrests in
In one case, agents showed up at the home of a 50-year-old house painter named Manuel Mosqueda in the Los Angeles suburbs looking to arrest an immigrant who wasn’t there. In the process, they spoke with Mosqueda, arrested him and put him on a bus to Mexico — though lawyers were able to halt his deportation and bring him back, the Associated Press reported.
In Austin, the Mexican Consulate told the American-Statesman that 30 Mexican immigrants were detained by ICE on Friday and 14 were detained Thursday. By comparison, the Austin consulate had seen an average of four to five Mexican immigrants detained daily in recent years.
ICE officials insisted the arrests were routine operations carried out severals times each year and targeted individual criminals, not communities. Gillian Christensen, acting press secretary for the department of Homeland Security, said ICE "does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately," KTLA reported.
Advocacy groups and some Democratic politicians, however, viewed the arrests as a new move against undocumented immigrants in the wake of a sweeping executive order signed Jan. 25 by
That order made clear that just about any immigrant living in the country illegally could be a priority for deportation, particularly those with outstanding deportation orders. It also said enforcement priorities would include convicted criminals, immigrants who had been arrested for any criminal offense, those who committed fraud, and anyone who may have committed a crime.
“These reports show the serious consequences of (Trump's) executive order, which allows all undocumented immigrants to be categorized as criminals and requires increased enforcement in communities, rather than prioritizing dangerous criminals,”
“This is retaliatory and it is a way to provide political cover ― ‘Look what we’re doing, we’re out there being tough on criminals’ ― when in reality, they’re breaking up families,” Rep.
The arrests are playing out against a backdrop of fear within immigrant communities, underscored by the deportation Thursday of an Arizona woman, and mother of two American-born children, who came to the U.S. 22 years ago as a 14-year-old.
The deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 36, of
Her removal also signaled that federal authorities, who have focused in recent years on the worst criminals for deportation, were lowering the bar. Rayos, who was convicted in 2008 of using a fake Social Security card, had been reporting in regularly to immigration officials but until Wednesday had been allowed to remain in the country.
Fears of a crackdown have been mired in recent days in something of a semantic game over what is — and isn't — "routine" between advocacy groups, immigrants communities and federal authorities.
“I am asking ICE to clarify whether these individuals are in fact dangerous, violent threats to our communities, and not people who are here peacefully raising families and contributing to our state. I will continue to monitor this situation," he said.
In Los Angeles, David Marin, field office director for ICE enforcement and removal operations in the Los Angeles area, announced Friday that 161 people were arrested in six Southern
"The rash of these recent reports about ICE checkpoints and random sweeps and the like — it is all false, and it is definitely dangerous and irresponsible because reports like that create a panic, and they put communities and law enforcement at risk,” he told reporters on a conference call. He said the operation was planned prior to President Trump taking office.
He noted that 151 of the arrests involved people with criminal records, with about 75% having been previously convicted of felonies, including child sex crimes, weapons charges and assault. Marin said five people were detained because they had final deportation orders already in place.
The other five people deported had no criminal record. Marin said those five would not have fallen under the enforcement priority list under Obama, but did so now under Trump's executive order, an indication of changes afoot under the new directive.
Another sign of change came from comments before Congress by new
“I think their morale has suffered because of the job they were hired to do, and then in their sense, they’re … kind of hobbled or, you know, hands tied behind their back, that kind of thing,” Kelly told the House Homeland Security Committee. “And now, they feel more positive about things. I bet if you watch the morale issue, you’ll ... be surprised going forward.”
A report released Thursday by the nonpartisan
In addition, 37% of immigrants living in Phoenix, Houston, Dallas and Denver lack legal status, compared to 26% nationwide, the report said.
Contributing: Alan Gomez