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Immigration ‘enforcement surge’ leads to arrests of hundreds of undocumented migrants

February 13, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Immigration ‘enforcement surge’ leads to arrests of hundreds of undocumented migrants

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U.S. federal immigration agents apprehended hundreds of undocumented immigrants in four states this week in what authorities on Friday referred to as routine enforcement actions.

Reports of immigration sweeps this week flashed concern among immigration advocates and families, coming on the heels of President Trump’s executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries, an order which is currently on hold.

“The fear coursing through immigrants and the native-born Americans who love immigrants as friends and family are palpable,” Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, declared in a statement. “Reports of raids in immigrant communities are a grave concern.”

The enforcement operations took place in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and surrounding areas, according to David Marin, the director of enforcement and removal for the L.A. field office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers detain a suspect as they conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on February 7, 2017. Courtesy Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via REUTERS

Only five of 161 individuals arrested in Southern California would not have been considered enforcement priorities under the Obama administration, he added.

The agency has not released the total number of detainees. The Atlanta office, which spans three states, arrested 200 individuals, Bryan Cox, a spokesman for the agency, revealed. The 161 arrests in Los Angeles were conducted in an area that included seven heavily populated counties, Marin continued.

Marin referred to the five-day operation as an “enforcement surge.”

In a call with reporters, he stated that such actions were customary, pointing to one last summer in Los Angeles under former President Obama.

U.S. federal immigration agents arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least four states

“The rash of these reports about ICE checkpoints and random sweeps, that’s all false, and that’s dangerous and irresponsible,” Marin continued. “Reports like that create a panic.”

He said that of the individuals arrested in Southern California, only ten did not have criminal backgrounds. Of those, five had prior orders for deportation.

Michael Kagan, a professor of immigration law at the University of Nevada, told Reuters immigration advocates are worried that the arrests could indicate the beginning of more aggressive enforcement and expanded deportations under Trump.

“It sounds as if the majority are people who would have been priorities under Obama as well,” Kagan stated in an interview. “The others may indicate the first of a new wave of arrests and deportations.”

Trump recently expanded the categories of those who could be targeted for immigration enforcement to anyone who had been charged with a criminal offense, removing an Obama-era exemption for people convicted of traffic misdemeanors.

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