Lacey, Feuer Join Call to Stop ICE Courthouse Arrests

April 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

LOS ANGELES  – Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and District Attorney Jackie Lacey are among a dozen prosecutors who sent a letter Tuesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asking the federal government to stop its agents from making immigration arrests at local courthouses.

The letter was sent in support of California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who first raised the issue in March in a letter to the Trump administration.

The letter followed a report by the Los Angeles Times that found Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in California, Arizona, Texas and Colorado are arresting immigrants in the country illegally at courthouses.

ICE officials defended the tactic, saying they make arrests in courthouses only when all other options have been exhausted, according to The Times.

Cantil-Sakauye wrote that she worried about the “impact on public trust and confidence in our state court system if the public feels that our state institutions are being used to facilitate other goals and objectives, no matter how expedient they may be.”

Feuer and Lacey were joined by 10 other prosecutors who signed the letter, including Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert, Santa Monica City Attorney Joseph Lawrence and Burbank City Attorney Amy Albano.

“ICE courthouse arrests make all Californians less safe. These practices deter residents concerned about their immigration status from appearing in court – including as crime victims and witnesses – jeopardizing effective prosecution of criminals who may then re-offend,” the letter said.

Feds Raid Bell Gardens Bicycle Casino

April 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Bell Gardens relies heavily on revenue from the Bicycle Hotel and Casino, but today’s raid by federal agents could lead to a substantial economic hit to the Southeast city if the Casino is closed for a prolonged period, or shut down permanently.

Dozens of law enforcement officials with the Los Angeles High Intensity Financial Crime Area Task Force — which includes the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE), IRS Criminal Investigation, the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Gambling Control and the United States Attorney’s office — executed a search warrant at the Casino around 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Federal task force raids Bicycle Hotel and Casino in Bell Gardens Tuesday morning. (EGP Photo by Nancy Martinez

Federal agents raid Bicycle Hotel and Casino in Bell Gardens Tuesday morning. (EGP Photo by Nancy Martinez)

Bell Gardens police, who have in the past taken part in other joint federal task forces, were not involved in today’s action, the department told EGP.

It is not yet clear what the task force was looking for because “The search warrant issued by a United States magistrate judge was filed under seal in relation to an ongoing investigation,” according to Virginia Kice of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Because the warrant is under seal, we are not able to comment on the scope or nature of the investigation.”

She said it’s “an ongoing investigation.”

Because the task force is known to target money laundering, there is speculation today’s raid could be related to organized crime.

A call by City News Service to the poker club’s legal department was not immediately returned.

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

With the exception of a few hotel and casino managers, most employees were allowed to leave the premises.

A woman resembling Julie Coyne, executive director of the Bicycle Casino Community Foundation, was caught by a helicopter news camera being escorted by federal agents into the Casino early in the morning.

The task force is expected to seize financial documents from the Casino. No arrests have been made so far.

The Bicycle Casino – known to many poker players as The Bike – is expected to be closed to the public for the rest of the day, but hotel guests who could show a room key card were being allowed to return to the Casino.

News of the raid spread quickly through the small city, drawing people to stand outside the facility to get a closer look.

It also led to a lot of conversation amongst neighbors, with some speculating as to the reasons behind the early morning raid.

Jorge Gonzales, a longtime city resident whose mother at one time worked for the Casino, told EGP he believes federal investigators are looking into criminal activity he says has been going on for years.

“I’m not surprised, it’s actually about time they look into what’s going on here,” he said.

“This place was put up with gangster money,” he said, referring to the Casino’s history.

Founded in the mid-1980s, the Bicycle Club was seized in 1990 by the federal government after investigators said the club was partly built with laundered drug money.

 

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

A number of casino employees — who did not want to be identified for fear of putting their already uncertain jobs at risk —told EGP they had not been told if they should show up for their next work shift.

“Most people who work here are honest, humble, good people,” said one employee. “The people gambling are not from Bell Gardens,” he added, implying the raid may be targeting activity by foreigners.

Many Bicycle Hotel and Casino employees live in Bell Gardens. Several said Tuesday they are worried about their jobs.

“I can’t imagine what will happen if they close this place down,” said one worried employee, who hopes he will still receive his paycheck this week.

“It’s not beneficial for the casino or the city” for it to be closed down, interjected a woman in Spanish.

The Bicycle Casino Hotel opened with great anticipation in December 2015. Gov. Jerry Brown was at both the groundbreaking and grand opening of the $50 million, seven-story, 100-room hotel.

In years past, nearly half of Bell Gardens’ General Fund revenue has come from the Casino. It is expected to generate $13 million in funds for the city during the 2016-17 fiscal year that ends in June, an amount projected to be slightly higher in 2017-2018.

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

A long time closure or the revoking of the Casino’s license could have a negative impact on city finances. In 2012, when Casino revenue dwindled to an all-time low, Bell Gardens found itself with a budget deficit that took a toll on some city services.

Call to Bell Gardens officials for comment were not immediately returned.

The possibility of such drastic action – long time closure or revoking the Casino’s license – seem unlikely based on similar raids of other Casinos.

Federal authorities last year investigated the Gardena card club formerly known as the Normandie Casino for violating anti-money laundering laws.

The partnership that ran the Normandie was ordered to pay about $2.4 million to settle federal charges that the poker club failed to report large cash transactions to federal authorities, as required.

As part of an agreement with the government, the four partners agreed to pay a $1 million fine and to forfeit nearly $1.4 million for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and conspiring to avoid reporting to the government the large cash transactions of some of the casino’s “high-roller” gamblers.

Under the Bank Secrecy Act, casinos are required to implement and maintain programs designed to prevent criminals from using the clubs to launder the large sums of cash that illegal activity can generate.

For example, casinos must record and report to the government the details of transactions involving more than $10,000 by any one gambler in a 24-hour period.

City Manager Phil Wagner does not believe the current Bicycle Hotel and Casino owners and management are the targets of this investigation citing reports that the probe is focused on individual gamblers that may or may not have used the casino to launder illegally obtained cash.

“Unfortunately for the many law-abiding customers of the Casino, its employees and the community which has suffered a great deal of negative publicity,” Wagner told EGP.

Wagner went on to criticize media reports that used today’s events as an opportunity to  bring to light “unrelated issues that happened 27 years ago when the casino was under completely different ownership and management.”

“That’s totally unfair to the Casino and to this community,” Wagner told EGP.

Even if not closed, heavy fines would hurt Casino revenue, losses that could in turn hurt the city’s budget.

The Bicycle Casino has always been the crown jewel in the working class city, longtime Bell Gardens resident Nury Balmaceda told EGP.

It “helped build all this,” she said, pointing to the surrounding development that now includes high producing retailers like Ross and Marshals and the newly opened Dunkin’ Donuts and Chipotle.

“It helped bring all these businesses here.”

Other residents were concerned by the presence of ICE agents in the Southeast city, home to a large immigration population.

“A lot of undocumented people may be afraid to come out,” noted Balmaceda, who hopes nothing bad comes out of the raid.

In addition to city revenue, The Bicycle Casino Community Foundation provides scholarships for local students, recognizes local businesses and hosts an annual Christmas celebration for low-income residents.

“This is hit for the people of Bell Gardens, in the end we are the ones who will pay for it.”

Information from City News Service was used in this report.

[Update 7:15p.m.] to include statement from Bell Gardens City Manager.

L.A. Expands Special Order 40 to Other Agencies, Departments

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday in support of federal legislation that would ensure individuals being held or detained at a port of entry or at any immigration detention facility would be guaranteed access to legal counsel.

The Access to Counsel Act was introduced by California Sen. Kamala Harris and comes after President Donald Trump issued two executive orders halting or limiting immigration from some Muslim-majority countries. Both of the orders have been blocked by federal judges.

The resolution was approved with an 11-0 vote

“As an immigrant, I’m appalled by the Trump administration’s blatant disregard for the values Americans hold dear,” Councilman David Ryu said.

The vote comes one day after Mayor Eric Garcetti signed Executive Directive 20 that prevents the city’s harbor and airport police and fire department from enforcing federal immigration laws, following a similar policy that has been in place by the city’s police department for decades.

It expands Special Order 40, the Los Angeles Police Department’s policy that prohibits officers from initiating any police activity for the sole purpose of identifying someone’s immigration status.

The mayor’s action Tuesday was part of the Cities’ Day of Immigration Action, which was organized by the United States Conference of Mayors. Sixty-five mayors from around the country took part in the day of action to help promote immigrants’ rights.

“This is a day I think when mayors are standing up for universal American values,” Garcetti said on a conference call with reporters and the 65 mayors. “We are standing alongside our police chiefs, our faith leaders, our legal advocates, our business leaders and community advocates to reaffirm our commitment to our immigrant residents.”

At a press conference later in the day at the Lincoln Height Youth Center, the mayor and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck emphasized that expansion of Special Order 40 is about ensuring public safety and keeping city resources from being used to do the work of federal immigration authorities.

Both the mayor and chief said recent ICE raids and the presence of ICE agents at courthouses have had a negative impact on crime reporting by Latinos.

Reports of sexual assaults and domestic violence in the Latino community have fallen this year significantly compared to last year, Beck said.

Sexual assault reports have fallen 25 percent, and domestic violence reports have fallen 10 percent.

Beck said there was a “strong correlation” between the decreases and fears in the city’s immigrant population about increased federal immigration arrests in the city. He also said the reduction “far exceeds the reductions of any other demographic group.”

“Imagine someone being the victim of domestic violence and not calling the police,” he said. “Imagine your daughter, your sister, your mother, your friend not reporting sexual assault because they are afraid the family will be torn apart.”

The vast majority of immigrants detained since Pres. Donald Trump’s executive order directing ICE to step up immigration enforcement actions and deportations have been from Mexico and Central America, leading activists to complain that Latinos are being profiled and targeted by immigration enforcement officers.

“Where are the arrests of people from Canada and Australia,” a woman in the audience who only wanted to use her first name, Ana, asked EGP following the press conference.

Councilman Gil Cedillo (CD-1) was with the mayor Tuesday in Lincoln Heights. He said Los Angeles has a long reputation of protecting immigrants, and said Garcetti’s signing of Executive Directive 20, means the city is not only “accepting of immigrants,” but also a city that “protects them.”

“Not too long ago, Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez was dropping off his kids at school, when ICE arrested him and detained him. For a child, that image of having your father taken away by an agent that has the words “POLICE” written on his jacket, goes against our efforts to instill trust and cooperation with our local law enforcement,” he told EGP in an email.

Both Beck and Garcetti expressed concern that immigrant families out of fear may be keeping their children home from school or from participating in after-school and other programs.

Cedillo said his office is “starting to see constituents call in for City services and being reluctant to give their name or address. This tells us that people are scared,” something he says is not only counterproductive to our service delivery efforts, but is also inhumane.”

Executive Directive 20 prohibits officers from initiating any police activity for the sole purpose of identifying someone’s immigration status. It also bars any city employee from assisting any federal agency where the primary purpose is federal civil immigration enforcement.

“All residents must feel safe and supported when accessing the vast array of city facilities, programs, and services available to them,” the order states.

Information from City News Service used in this report.

 

ICE Arresta A Padre Cerca de Escuela en Los Ángeles

March 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Defensores de inmigrantes en Los Ángeles denunciaron hoy que agentes de inmigración arrestaron a un padre de familia cuando se dirigía a dejar a sus hijas en sus escuelas.

El arresto de Rómulo Avelica-González, de 48 años de edad y oriundo de México, se dio este martes en la mañana cuando el hombre salió de su casa con su esposa y sus dos hijas, de 12 y 13 años, rumbo a las escuelas donde estudian.

Tras dejar a una de las hijas en su escuela, el mexicano se dirigió al otro centro educativo que queda a poca distancia.

En el camino, el inmigrante fue interceptado por dos vehículos sin identificación en el cual viajaban agentes del Servicio de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE).

“El arresto se dio muy cerca de la escuela y con esta acción los agentes de inmigración están retando a la comunidad, no podemos permitir que el ICE venga a nuestros vecindarios y siembre el terror”, declaró a Efe Emi MacLean, abogada de la Red Nacional de Jornaleros (NDLON).

No obstante, la portavoz de ICE, Virginia Kise, explicó a Efe que después de llevar a cabo la vigilancia para confirmar la identidad del sospechoso, los oficiales arrestaron a Avelica durante una parada del vehículo, aproximadamente a media milla de una de las escuelas.

MacLean advirtió que cada vez más los agentes de inmigración se están acercando a las escuelas y lugares públicos como hospitales e iglesias.

“¿Qué hubiera pasado si el señor Avelica estuviera solo manejando, donde queda su hija? Es muy preocupante que esté pasando esto en Los Ángeles y en todo el país”, apuntó.

La semana pasada en Texas, 16 indocumentados, sin antecedentes criminales, fueron arrestados en dos restaurantes en medio de un operativo del ICE.

Esta mañana en Georgia, agentes del ICE, mientras buscaban a otro individuo, levantaron a un indocumentado de su cama y lo arrestaron.

Brenda Avelica, una de las 4 hijas del mexicano, aseguró que las autoridades de inmigración están destruyendo a la familia y las están dejando sin la persona que les daba el apoyo económico y moral.

Avelica llegó a Estados Unidos en la década de los noventa y tiene una orden de deportación vigente y en su récord aparece una infracción por conducir bajo la influencia del alcohol o drogas (DUI).

La familia alega que el mexicano fue víctima de un abogado de inmigración que le prometió arreglar su estatus migratorio, pero no cumplió.

“Están colocando la etiqueta de criminal a todos los indocumentados, y este es el ejemplo de la nueva política de Trump y de sus acciones, no podemos dejarnos convencer, tenemos que resistir y denunciar estos arrestos”, insistió Pablo Alvarado, director de NDLON.

Avelica permanece en custodia de ICE, mientras que activistas están programando una protesta para los próximos días frente al centro de detención donde se encuentra.

Denuncian Detención de Otro ‘Soñador’

March 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Un “soñador” beneficiario del programa de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA) fue detenido por las autoridades, informó el 22 de febrero una organización de defensa de los inmigrantes de Los Ángeles.

El joven residente del Sur de California fue detenido por las autoridades hace más de una semana y la Oficina de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE) “ha hecho extremadamente difícil para el abogado el contacto con el joven”, denunció la Coalición por los Derechos Humanos de los Inmigrantes de Los Ángeles (CHIRLA).

“ICE detuvo al joven adulto hace 10 días. Todavía no se sabe dónde está detenido”, recalcó la organización.

CHIRLA indicó que Joseph Porta, abogado del “soñador”, cuyo nombre no fue facilitado, exigirá mañana en una conferencia de prensa en Los Ángeles, que las autoridades de inmigración informen en dónde tienen detenido al joven.

El abogado del joven y su familia igualmente exigirán que se facilite el contacto con el beneficiario de la acción administrativa emitida por el expresidente Barack Obama y que se expliquen las razones de su detención.

Igualmente se reclamó hoy que el joven “ha sido transferido a varios centros de detención a través del país y no se le ha garantizado el acceso a su abogado”.

Con este caso ya serían tres los jóvenes beneficiarios de DACA que han sido detenidos luego de que fueran dadas a conocer las nuevas directrices sobre inmigración del Gobierno del presidente Trump.

Edwin Santiago Romero Escamilla, de 25 años de edad y estudiante de la Universidad de Texas en Dallas, quien estaba detenido en la cárcel del Departamento de Policía de Richardson con una orden de detención del ICE, fue liberado hoy según informó la organización RAICES.

No obstante, el mexicano Daniel Ramírez Medina, un “soñador” indocumentado de 23 años, detenido a mediados de febrero en Seattle, Washington, sigue en el centro de Detención de Tacoma.

El caso de Daniel Ramírez Medina es el primero conocido de la detención de un “soñador” tras la llegada de Trump al poder.

El joven, que se acogió al programa DACA en 2014, carece de antecedentes y fue detenido, según información del Departamento de Justicia, cuando los agentes de la Oficina de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE) procedían a detener a su padre en su casa en Des Moines, Washington.

Su padre, Antonio Ramírez Polendo, estuvo un año en la cárcel en Washington por tráfico de drogas y ha sido deportado ocho veces, según el registro de las autoridades.

El joven soñador detenido, según han informado las autoridades, reconoció haber tenido nexos con la pandilla Sureños en California y luego con otros pandilleros en el estado de Washington.

Sin embargo, su abogado negó categóricamente sus vínculos con las pandillas, argumentando que fueron las autoridades quienes lo presionaron para la declaración.

El memorando, divulgado y firmado este martes por el secretario de Seguridad Nacional, John Kelly, precisa que no solo se perseguirá a los inmigrantes indocumentados con cargos criminales violentos, sino también aquellos que hayan “abusado” de los beneficios públicos o que, “a juicio de un agente de inmigración, puedan suponer un riesgo para la seguridad pública y seguridad nacional”.

Sin embargo, el memorando especificó que los beneficiados con DACA a partir de 2012, no se verán afectados por las nuevas órdenes de la agencia federal.

Los 750.000 jóvenes que recibieron del presidente Barack Obama protección provisional contra las deportaciones, y permisos de trabajo por tres años, mantendrán el estatus, mientras cumplan con las reglas del programa.

Homeland Security Defends Immigration Raids, Arrests

February 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly Monday defended recent “targeted enforcement operations” by federal authorities in areas including Los Angeles that triggered mass-deportation fears in some immigrant communities, saying the raids were aimed at criminals and people who violated immigration laws.

On Tuesday, however, a scheduled meeting between House Members and the leadership of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was abruptly cancelled, adding to concerns about ICE’s willingness to be transparent.

“Frankly, ICE’s failure to meet and provide us with important information regarding ICE’s recent wave of arrests raises serious questions about the transparency of the agency’s activities,” Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) said Tuesday.

The wave of arrests last week “created fear and panic in our communities,” she said, adding that ICE has a responsibility to answer House Members’ questions and to provide a “clear and full accounting” of their actions.

“Our constituents worry about what these arrests could mean for them, their families, and their friends,” Roybal-Allard said.

Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (CA-32), however, said Wednesday she has since spoken to a person “high up” in the agency who she did not name, and she is confident the agency had targeted some very bad criminals.

She said the agency assured her that all the actions were directed at individuals in their homes, and that the agency does not conduct raids at churches or other public locations.

According to immigration authorities, about 161 people were detained in the weeklong Southern California operation: 95 people were arrested in Los Angeles County; 35 in Orange County; 13 in San Bernardino County; seven in Riverside County; six in Ventura County and five in Santa Barbara County.

The city of Los Angeles saw the most arrests, with 37 (including nine in Van Nuys), followed by Santa Ana with 16 and Compton with six. The others were scattered around the Southland, with most cities seeing between one and four people arrested.

Similar operations were conducted across the country, with more than 680 people arrested, according to federal authorities.

News of the raids prompted an outcry from local immigrant-rights activists, with hundreds of people on Thursday taking their protest to the federal building in downtown L.A.

Activists suggested the raids are the result of President Trump’s pledge and executive action to crack down on illegal immigration and to deport people living in the United States without authorization.

In response, CHIRLA, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights 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.

On Friday, after first denying the claims of immigrant-rights activists that as many as 100 people had been arrested, immigration authorities finally acknowledged the enforcement “surge,” but said they were “no different than the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis.” They said the raids had been in the planning for months and were in compliance with enforcement objectives set by the Obama Administration.

ICE officials insisted, however, “The rash of recent reports about purported ICE checkpoints and random sweeps are false, dangerous and irresponsible,” referring to reports circulating on social media.

“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,” said ICE officials.

On Monday, Kelly also stressed that ICE conducts such operations “regularly and has for many years.”

“These operations targeted public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges.”

What to do url

He said about 75 percent of the people arrested had been “convicted of crimes including, but not limited to, homicide, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault of a minor, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, indecent liberties with a minor, drug trafficking, battery, assault, DUI and weapons charges.”

Kelly noted that Pres. Trump “has been clear in affirming the critical mission of DHS in protecting the nation and directed our department to focus on removing illegal aliens who have violated our immigration laws, with a specific focus on those who pose a threat to public safety, have been charged with criminal offenses, have committed immigration violations or have been deported and re-entered our country illegally.”

ICE, acknowledged, however, 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.”

The bulk of those arrested were from Mexico, while others hailed from countries including El Salvador, Guatemala, China, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Honduras, Belize, Philippines, Australia, Brazil, Israel and South Korea.

CHIRLA and others rebuffed ICE’s label of “criminal” applied to 150 out of the more than 160 undocumented immigrants detained.

“There is a deficit of trust of 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 Angelica Salas, executive director of CHIRLA last Friday. “ICE has not been forthright with the community, attorneys, and organizations about their actions … 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.”

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

“It is essential that Members of Congress know the facts about these enforcement activities in order to properly inform our constituents, who deserve truth and transparency from ICE,” said Roybal-Allard, who also said she is “extremely disappointed and concerned that DHS canceled” Tuesday’s meeting with Members of Congress.

“I urge Acting Director Homan to meet with my colleagues and me immediately. This meeting will enable us to share our concerns and have our questions answered to better respond to our constituents.”

 

Article contains information from City News Service.

 

No Plans to Assist ICE by Police in Southeast Cities

February 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers descended on a number of Southern California communities last week, spreading fear that mass-deportations were underway across Los Angeles County, home to nearly 1 million undocumented immigrants.

Rumors of local police cooperating with ICE officers spread quickly, especially in working class, immigrant communities where distrust of police is in some cases already high.

Since 2014, the California Trust Act has prohibited local jails from holding people under arrest for longer periods than charges require just to give ICE more time to decide whether to take the person into custody.

The two largest law enforcement agencies in the region, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Dept., have both said they will not act as “immigration agents” or cooperate with federal immigration officers.

Smaller police forces, many in cities with large numbers immigrant residents or in the case of Vernon, workers, also say they want to leave immigration enforcement to federal authorities.

Vernon Police Chief Daniel Calleros told EGP he was surprised to hear that one of last week’s raids took place in nearby Downey. He said the Vernon Police Department has no plans to assist ICE with such raids or to detain people in the country without authorization until ICE can take them into custody.

“We don’t work hand-in-hand with ICE,” Calleros emphasized. “We don’t hold anyone on ICE detainers, only actual warrants signed by a judge.”

Calleros said immigration issues are not an area the city gets involved in.

“We don’t ask if you are here illegally, that’s not our job,” he explained, saying it’s the job of the federal government.

He added that Vernon Police would only assist ICE if it were a matter of public safety.

In neighboring Bell Gardens, police Chief Robert E. Barnes also told EGP his department does not get involved in immigration-related matters.

He clarified, however, that some Bell Gardens PD detectives work with ICE agents as part of the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force (L.A. IMPACT), which investigates major narcotic crimes.

EGP was unable to verify whether the LA IMPACT task force assisted in ICE raids last week,

Barnes acknowledged that some of past mistrust of Bell Gardens police might still linger in the working class, predominately Latino southeast city.

“We used to have issues with DUI Checkpoints,” he said, recalling that some people believed the checkpoints were really a pretense for checking a person’s immigration status.

But “that’s not even on our radar” these days, Barnes said.

When asked about the Montebello Police Department’s stance on immigration during the city’s first-ever virtual neighborhood watch meeting last week, Sgt. Marc Marty said a person’s immigration status does not change anything.

“When someone commits a crime, whether or not you’re an [undocumented] immigrant or citizen, we arrest you,” he said. “We arrest people based on the violation of the law and let the courts decide what to do with them.”

Nearby Commerce contracts with the LA County Sheriff’s Department for its policing services, and therefore falls under that department’s guidelines when it comes to immigration enforcement.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell has on numerous occasions sought to assure immigrants that the LA County Sheriff Department is committed to helping all people regardless of their immigration status. He’s emphasized that deputies do not participate in the process of determining the immigration status of people in their custody, or that of crime victims.

Both Calleros and Barnes told EGP they have not received any calls related to the raids from residents or businesses in their respective cities, despite rumors of local police in some areas assisting in immigration checkpoints that have since been discredited.

Both police chiefs did say however, there is one phone call they hope to get should ICE decide to conduct similar operations in Bell Gardens or Vernon.

“I hope that if they do come into our city they give us a courtesy call so we have an idea of what’s going on,” said Calleros.

 

California: Estado Más Afectado Por Redadas de la Semana Pasada

February 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

California fue el estado más afectado por los operativos de la semana pasada que se saldaron con el arresto de más de 680 inmigrantes en todo el país en la primera tanda de redadas de la presidencia de Donald Trump, como informó el Gobierno el 13 de febrero.

Los agentes de inmigración detuvieron la semana pasada a 680 inmigrantes, informó el Gobierno, que defendió que las operaciones se centraron en individuos que supusieran “amenazas a la seguridad pública”.

El secretario de Seguridad Nacional de EE.UU., John Kelly, dio la cifra de detenidos en un comunicado, y subrayó que “aproximadamente el 75 por ciento” de los 680 eran “inmigrantes criminales”.

Según cifras difundidas por el Servicio de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE) el mismo día, en Los Ángeles 161 personas fueron arrestadas y casi la mayoría (un cuarto del total) vivían en el Sur de California.

Los mismos datos indican que 235 de los detenidos se encontraban en los estados de Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Kansas y Misuri; mientras otros 190 fueron detenidos en Georgia, Carolina del Norte o Carolina del Sur.

También, otros 41 fueron arrestados en Nueva York y 28 más los detuvieron en el área de San Antonio (Texas), precisó ICE.

En el Condado de Los Ángeles, las autoridades migratorias arrestaron a 95 personas, la mayoría dentro de sus hogares. Mientras que en el Condado de Orange, según aseguran los activistas, los agentes del ICE incluso llegaron a entrar a una fábrica donde trabajaba uno de los 35 arrestados en esa zona.

La ciudad de Los Ángeles vio la mayoría de los arrestos con 28 detenidos, seguido por Santa Ana con 16, y Van Nuys con nueve indocumentados arrestados.

42 de los inmigrantes detenidos tenían condenas por violencia doméstica, 26 tenían cargos relacionados con drogas, y 17 por delitos sexuales.

Solo 10 indocumentados del total de los arrestados no tenían récord criminal.

Las acciones migratorias comenzaron el lunes de la semana pasada y se extendieron el jueves a Los Ángeles. A respuesta, la Coalición por los Derechos Humanos de los Inmigrantes en Los Ángeles (CHIRLA) está ofreciendo sesiones de capacitación tituladas “Conozca Sus Derechos” y una línea de información gratuita (888-624-4752) para personas que necesiten asistencia legal.

Entre los 680 detenidos de la semana pasada, en su mayoría (90%) hombres, había inmigrantes originarios de una docena de países, liderados por mexicanos.

Los otros arrestados eran de países como El Salvador, Guatemala, China, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Honduras, Belice, Filipinas, Australia, Brasil, Israel y Corea del Sur.

De momento, el titular de Seguridad Nacional no precisó cuántos de los inmigrantes detenidos han sido o serán deportados y cuántos de ellos se enfrentarán a procesos penales en Estados Unidos.

Joven Beneficiario de DACA Detenido por Inmigración

February 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Agentes migratorios de Estados Unidos detuvieron a un joven indocumentado de 23 años que estaba amparado por un programa del expresidente Barack Obama para los inmigrantes que llegaron de niños al país, a los que se conoce como “dreamers” (“soñadores”).

El caso de Daniel Ramírez Medina es el primero conocido en EE.UU. de la detención de un “dreamer” tras la llegada al poder del nuevo presidente, Donald Trump.

Los “dreamers” son los jóvenes que se beneficiaron del programa de alivio migratorio Acción Diferida (DACA) aprobado en 2012 por Obama y al que se acogieron unos 750,000 indocumentados que llegaron de niños al país.

Trump prometió durante la campaña que los “dreamers” serían deportados igual que el resto de indocumentados que viven en el país (unos 11 millones), pero hace un par de semanas afirmó que “no deberían preocuparse mucho” porque tiene “un gran corazón”.

Ramírez Medina, de nacionalidad mexicana y que llegó a Estados Unidos en 2001 cuando tenía siete años, fue detenido el pasado viernes en la residencia familiar de Des Moines (estado de Washington), según denunció su defensa el 14 de febrero.

El joven, que se acogió al programa DACA en 2014, carece de antecedentes y fue detenido cuando los agentes del Servicio de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE) procedían a detener a su padre por motivos que no han trascendido.

De acuerdo con un comunicado del ICE dirigido a Univisión, Ramírez Medina es un “riesgo para la seguridad pública” ya que reconoció “estar afiliado con pandillas”.

“El señor Ramírez -quien admitió ser miembro de una pandilla- fue hallado en una residencia en Des Moines, Washington, durante una operación que tenía como objetivo a un delincuente que ya había sido deportado anteriormente”, apuntó el ICE.

La defensa del joven, sin embargo, negó categóricamente que forme parte de pandilla alguna y denunció que los agentes le obligaron a confesarlo una vez detenido.

ICE detuvo la semana pasada a 680 inmigrantes indocumentados en varias redadas en una docena de estados.

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.

Next Page »

Copyright © 2017 Eastern Group Publications/EGPNews, Inc. ·