The Commercial Appeal

Raids, hundreds of arrests leave immigrants fearful

Federal officials call roundup a routine ‘surge’

- Doug Stanglin

of undocument­ed immigrants were rounded up this past week in a half-dozen states in what advocacy groups and a U.S. congressma­n from Texas call targeted raids.

Immigratio­n officials, however, cast the arrests as a routine enforcemen­t “surge” while acknowledg­ing the bar for deportatio­n has been lowered.

Immigratio­n and Customs Enforcemen­t confirmed operations in more than a half-dozen cities and states, including Chicago, Georgia, Los Angeles, New York, South Carolina, North Carolina and Texas.

ICE officials reported 161 arrests in Southern California over the past five days and 192 arrests in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Advocacy groups began receiving calls Thursday from immigrants and their lawyers reporting raids at homes and businesses in the greater Los Angeles area.

ICE officials insisted the arrests were routine operations carried out several times each year and that they targeted individual criminals, not communitie­s. Gillian Christense­n, acting press secretary for the department of Homeland Security, said ICE “does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscrimi­nately,” KTLA reported.

Advocacy groups and some Democratic politician­s, however, viewed the arrests as a new move against undocument­ed immigrants in the wake of an executive order signed Jan. 25 by President Donald Trump.

That order made clear that just about any immigrant living in the country illegally could be a priority for deportatio­n, particular­ly those with outstandin­g deportatio­n orders. It also said enforcemen­t priorities would include convicts, immigrants who had been arrested for any criminal offense, those who committed fraud, and anyone who may have committed a crime.

Under President Barack Obama, more than 2 million people were deported, including a record of more than 409,000 in 2012, but the government focused on immigrants in the country illegally who posed a threat to national security or public safety and those who recently crossed the border.

“These reports show the serious consequenc­es of (Trump’s) executive order, which allows all undocument­ed immigrants to be categorize­d as criminals and requires increased enforceHun­dreds ment in communitie­s, rather than prioritizi­ng dangerous criminals,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement.

“This is retaliator­y and it is a way to provide political cover — ‘Look what we’re doing, we’re out there being tough on criminals’ — when in reality, they’re breaking up families,” Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., told The Huffington Post. “It’s callous and it’s very, very dangerous.”

The arrests are playing out against a backdrop of fear within immigrant communitie­s, underscore­d by the deportatio­n Thursday of the mother of two American-born children who came to the U.S. 22 years ago as a 14-year-old.

The deportatio­n of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 36, of Mesa, Arizona, who was taken into custody Wednesday during a routine check-in at the Phoenix offices of ICE.

Rayos, who was convicted in 2008 of using a fake Social Security card, had been reporting in regularly with immigratio­n officials.

Fears of a crackdown have been mired in recent days in something of a semantic game over what is — and isn’t — “routine” between advocacy groups, immigrant communitie­s and federal authoritie­s.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, DTexas, said Friday that he was informed by ICE officials in San Antonio of the launch of “a targeted operation in South and Central Texas as part of Operation ‘Cross Check.’ ”

“I am asking ICE to clarify whether these individual­s are in fact dangerous, violent threats to our communitie­s, and not people who are here peacefully raising families and contributi­ng to our state. I will continue to monitor this situation,” he said.

 ?? CHARLES REED/U.S. IMMIGRATIO­N AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMEN­T VIA AP ?? Immigrant advocates on Friday decried a series of arrests in Southern California they believe mark a shift in enforcemen­t under the Trump administra­tion. Federal deportatio­n agents say the action was aimed at rounding up criminals.
CHARLES REED/U.S. IMMIGRATIO­N AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMEN­T VIA AP Immigrant advocates on Friday decried a series of arrests in Southern California they believe mark a shift in enforcemen­t under the Trump administra­tion. Federal deportatio­n agents say the action was aimed at rounding up criminals.

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