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ICE arrests 128 immigrants in California ‘sanctuary cities’

Calling California’s “sanctuary” city policies a danger to Americans, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf announced Wednesday the arrests of 128 unauthorized immigrants, most of them in Southern California.

The arrests mark the first phase of “Operation Rise,” an enforcement plan that aligns with President Trump’s campaign against cities that have adopted laws to protect immigrants who are in the country illegally.

Nearly 100 of the 128 arrested were picked up across the seven counties the Los Angeles ICE office oversees, including Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, an ICE spokesman in Los Angeles said.

They include a 50-year-old Mexican national arrested in Long Beach on Sept. 28 and deported the same day. He was convicted in 1994 of conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. Another man, from El Salvador, had a murder conviction in 2009. He was arrested and is pending deportation.

Most of the people arrested between Sept. 28 and Oct. 2 are “hardened criminals,” Wolf said. They include two convicted murderers and others accused or convicted of sexual assault, domestic violence and other offenses, according to Wolf.

“Our obligation to protect American citizens from illegal aliens who rape, murder, and otherwise commit violent crimes against our communities does not stop at the borders of a so-called sanctuary city,” he said during a morning press conference in Washington D.C.

Asked about the timing of the operation, which his agency plans to expand to other U.S. cities, Wolf denied that it was tied to the upcoming presidential election.

“It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. It’s about sanctuary cities,” he said.

But the timing of the announcement, less than a month from Election Day, is suspect, immigrant rights advocates said.

“Having lost its war on sanctuary cities, ICE is placing all bets on racist electoral stunts,” said Salvador Sarmiento, of the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

Almas Sayeed, a deputy director at the California Immigrant Policy Center, wrote in a statement that the Trump administration “trades in fear mongering on the eve of an election.”

Under the 2018 California Values Act, known as the state’s sanctuary law, cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration agents is limited. Local police and jailers cannot hold potentially deportable immigrants longer than required for ICE agents, unless the detainees have been convicted of serious offenses.

Former state Sen. Sen. Kevin de León, who is set to assume a seat on the Los Angeles City Council next week, was the author of the state bill. On Wednesday, he called ICE “a police operation that has gone rogue.”

“If they actually cared about public safety, they would go get a warrant like law enforcement does millions of times a day, across the country, and spend less time whining about the laws we passed to keep people safe,” de León said in a brief phone interview.

During his press conference, Wolf said that the lack of cooperation between the agencies puts immigrants and others at risk. If local police and ICE can’t coordinate and work together to transfer detainees from one facility to another, it means that ICE agents have to make those arrests at the immigrants’ home or workplace, leading to “collateral arrests” of other unauthorized immigrants who may be there at the time, he said.

“Any local jurisdiction thinking that refusing to cooperate with ICE will result in a decrease in local immigration enforcement is mistaken,” Wolf said.

Californians, he said, should “expect a more visible ICE presence.”

Source: Orange County Register

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