Activists Challenge ICE Claim that Raids Targeted Criminals

February 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Federal immigration authorities confirmed today they arrested about 160 foreign nationals in a series of Southland raids carried out over the past week targeting “criminal aliens” and others in the country illegally, but activists and some elected officials criticized the actions and questioned ICE’s assertion that the raids have been months in the planning and are business as usual.

“For ICE, the arrest, detention, and deportation of more than 160 members of our community is business as usual. It is not for us and we will fight tooth and nail to stop them,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of CHIRLA, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the raids were carried out in six Southern California counties beginning Monday and ending around noon Friday. The operations targeted “at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and immigration fugitives.”

The raids prompted an outcry that began Thursday afternoon from local immigrant-rights activists, who suggested the actions were a result of a stepped-up enforcement effort under the Donald Trump presidential administration, which has vowed to crack down on illegal immigrations and people living in the United States without authorization.

CHIRLA created a toll-free hotline — (888) 624-4752 — for affected immigrants to call for assistance and obtain access to attorneys. The group also began offering hourly training sessions to inform illegal immigrants about their legal rights.

One woman, Marlene Mosqueda, told reporters Friday morning her father was taken away Thursday by authorities who weren’t wearing clothing identifying them as ICE officers, and he was deported.

“They took my parents away,” she said. “They took my family away.”

ICE officials initially insisted, however, “The rash of recent reports about purported ICE checkpoints and random sweeps are false, dangerous and irresponsible.

“These reports create panic and put communities and law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger. Individuals who falsely report such activities are doing a disservice to those they claim to support,” according to ICE officials.

While the raids represented an enforcement “surge,” they were “no different than the routing, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis,” they said, saying Friday that the raids had been in the planning for months and were in compliance with enforcement objectives set by the Obama Administration.

ICE officials said about 150 of the people arrested had criminal histories, while five others had “final orders of removal or had been previously deported.” They noted that many of those arrested had prior felony convictions for violent offenses including sex crimes, weapons charges and assault, and some will be referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution for re-entering the country illegally.

Details were not provided on the remaining people arrested, but ICE noted that during some raids, officers “frequently encounter additional suspects who may be in the United States in violation of the federal immigration laws. Those persons will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and, when appropriate, arrested by ICE.”

CHIRLA and others rebuffed ICE’s label of “criminal” applied to 150 out of more than 160 undocumented immigrants it finally admitted Friday to have detained in their most recent sweep in Southern California.

“There is a deficit of trust on DHS officials who insisted for hours on hours that nothing out of the ordinary had taken place in Southern California during the past few days,” said Salas. “ICE has not been forthright with the community, attorneys, and organizations about their actions this week. They have only offered half-truths thus far. Forgive us then, if we must take their word with a grain of salt.”

Some elected officials also criticized the immigration actions, and pledged to provide support to immigrants, and ensure they are aware of their rights.

“President Trump has already ignited widespread fear and confusion in our immigrant communities with his executive order and divisive campaign rhetoric,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. “If the reports are accurate, these raids only add to the anxiety about what’s to come from this administration.”

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, said she was “outraged” at news of the recent raids and suggested that some people who were targeted had no violent or criminal history.

“I am working with my constituents and the immigrant community to ensure they know their rights,” she said. “As this process moves forward, I will also ensure my constituents know what the next steps are, where applicable.”

ICE officials said the five-day operation included:
— the Huntington Park arrest of a Salvadoran national gang member
wanted in his home country for aggravated extortion;
— the Los Angeles arrest of a Brazilian national wanted in Brazil for
cocaine trafficking; and
— the West Hollywood arrest of an Australian national previously
convicted of lewd acts with a child.

“We demand ICE stop these sweeps which cause terror and instability in the community,” Salas said. “Furthermore, we demand ICE explain exactly what crime did the other 147 immigrants commit to merit the label “criminal.” Providing three examples does not a whole group of people a criminal make.

Article includes information from City News Service.

May Day Rallies to Focus on Worker and Immigrant Rights

April 30, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of downtown Los Angeles tomorrow for annual May Day marches supporting rights for workers and immigrants, with an emphasis on pushing for a $15 minimum wage and implementation of President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

The rallies and marches are expected to make life difficult for afternoon commuters in downtown Los Angeles, with street closures planned throughout the area to accommodate what are expected to be massive crowds. In an annual theme, police are urging motorists to avoid the area if at all possible and plan alternate routes.

A pair of marches are planned downtown, with participants expected to begin rallying at 3 p.m. and marching at 4 p.m.:

— Participants in the International Workers March will gather at Olympic Boulevard and Broadway, then march north on Broadway to Grand Park at Broadway and First Street.

— Participants in the Full Rights March will gather at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Broadway, march east on Cesar Chavez, south on Main Street, east on Aliso Street, south on Alameda Street then west on Temple Street, again ending at Grand Park.

The theme of the Full Rights March is “On May Day, No Justice Delayed,” pushing for an increased minimum wage, implementation of Obama’s orders to protect millions of immigrants from deportation and an end to police violence.

“It is our duty as a labor movement to fight for a living wage and enforcement so that working families have a chance to thrive,” said Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. “The time is now to raise the wage for hundreds of thousands of working Angelenos.”

Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, added that “justice has been denied to millions who await their chance at the American Dream.”

“Justice has been denied to millions who work hard and earn barely enough to survive,” she said. “Justice has been denied to millions whose dignity and respect have been trampled by law enforcement agencies. Enough is enough and our presence on May Day is the exclamation point in our demands.”

The Los Angeles City Council is debating a proposal to raise the minimum wage from $9 an hour to $13.25 an hour by 2017, to $15.25 an hour by 2019, and higher levels in subsequent years based on the Consumer Price Index.

Supporters of the wage hike proposal say it will lift hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers out of poverty and that businesses are capable of absorbing the increased costs, while critics of the plan say it would drive businesses out of the city and slow job growth.

Los Angeles County officials are also conducting studies on a possible hike in the minimum wage.

On the immigration front, millions of immigrants are awaiting the outcome of federal litigation over Obama’s “deferred action” orders, which have been put on hold by a judge in Texas. Opponents of the orders — most notably Republicans in Congress — contend Obama overstepped his authority in issuing the orders.

Martha Arevalo, executive director of the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles, said her organization is working to help immigrants take advantage of the programs, if they are implemented.

“On May 1, we will come together with our partners to give the community reliable, up-to-date information on what the programs do and don’t do, and our legal and organizing staff will be there to answer questions from the public,” Arevalo said.

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