Undocumented immigrants rounded up
WASHINGTON—US authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented migrants this week in the first large-scale raids under President Donald Trump, triggering panic in immigrant communities nationwide.
The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency rounded up undocumented individuals living in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and other cities two weeks after Trump signed an executive order that broadened which undocumented immigrants would be targeted for deportation.
According to ICE, however, the operations were “routine.”
“The focus of these operations is no different than the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis,” said agency spokesperson Jennifer Elzea.
David Marin, head of ICE’s removal operations in Los Angeles, told reporters that approximately 160 people had been arrested in the California metropolis.
About 120 of them had prior felony convictions, Marin said, adding that some people had been arrested solely because they were undocumented.
By Friday night, 37 undocumented immigrants had already been expelled to Mexico.
In a Jan. 25 decree, Trump prioritized the deportation of undocumented males who had been convicted of or “charged with any criminal offense,” including misdemeanors.
The first large-scale roundups was Trump’s attempt to make good on his campaign pledge to crack down on America’s undocumented population, estimated at 11 million people.
But Marin rebuffed reports about ICE checkpoints and random sweeps, calling them “dangerous and irresponsible.”
“Reports like that create panic, and they put communities and law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger,” Marin said.
The raids, which hit residential areas and workplaces, sparked protests and provoked the ire of elected Democratic representatives, notably in California and particularly in Los Angeles, where the Pew Research Center estimates around a million undocumented migrants reside.
“President Trump’s policy change betrays our values,” Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in a statement. “Tearing families apart isn’t what this country stands for.”
In Austin, Texas, where 100,000 unauthorized migrants live, a bystander captured video footage of an arrest, which made local front-page news and ignited demonstrations.
Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas said the roundup of undocumented migrants was part of “Operation Cross Check”—a series of large-scale raids that began in 2011 under Barack Obama.
The agency conducted the last sweep in March 2015, corraling 2,059 undocumented immigrants deemed threats to “public safety.”
In New York, which hosts the country’s largest population of undocumented immigrants—1.15 million, according to Pew—a few hundred people demonstrated near the immigration services office.
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