Slammed by critics as part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to instill fear in immigrant communities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says it has arrested nearly 500 undocumented immigrants amidst raids conducted in sanctuary cities across the country.
"This makes communities less safe."
—Jon Rodney, California Immigrant Policy CenterThe agency announced that it had detained a total of 498 immigrants from 42 different countries in raids that took place over a four-day period. Over 100 were arrested in both Los Angeles and Philadelphia, along with dozens more in Baltimore, Denver, and Washington, D.C.—all of which are actively resisting the Trump administration's immigration policies.
Billed euphemistically by the agency as "Operation Safe City," ICE claimed the raids would enhance the safety of targeted communities, but immigrant rights advocates argued Thursday that such operations will ultimately have the opposite effect.
"Persecuting cities because they are following the constitution and making sure they don't violate people's rights takes it down to a new level of low," David Leopold, an immigration attorney and former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told The Guardian. "This makes communities less safe."
Jon Rodney, communications manager with the California Immigrant Policy Center, argued that ICE's raids fit with the Trump administration's "longstanding pattern of scapegoating, criminalizing, and demonizing immigrants."
In a Twitter thread responding to news of the raids on Thursday, Scott Hechinger, a senior staff attorney with Brooklyn Defender Services, ripped ICE's claim that it is only targeting "dangerous" criminals as a false rhetorical stunt meant to perpetuate "Trump's lie that immigrants are 'rapists and murderers.'"
1st: ICE claims intent of operation was to target cities where theyve no access to jails/prisons. 36% of detained had no criminal record. 4/— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) September 28, 2017
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2nd: Of 317 ICE claims had records, 202 (63%) were misdemeanors or less, 268 (84%) were nonviolent, & only 29 (9%) were violent felonies.5/— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) September 28, 2017
Not just issue w ICE. Issue of state/local overcriminalization. Vast majority wouldnt have been targeted but 4 drug war/broken windows.7/— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) September 28, 2017
We all have role to play. Citizens: keep eyes/ears open. Govt: Want to be sanctuary? Stop arresting so many people for so many "crimes."Fin/— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) September 28, 2017