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ICE Officials Confirm That More Than 160 Individuals Were Arrested During 'Enforcement Surge'

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A protest on Thursday night following news of enforcement sweeps. (Photo by Julia Wick/LAist)
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Federal immigration officials confirmed Friday afternoon that they had arrested more than 160 individuals during a five-day targeted enforcement operation across six Southland counties this week. The confirmation comes after rumors of large-scale raids sparked panic and protests in Los Angeles Thursday night. ICE officials had originally said that the reports of 100 detainees were exaggerated.

In a press release sent out just after 1 p.m. Friday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Virginia Kice said that the five-day "enforcement surge" had concluded within the past few hours, and that the agency had targeted "criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants, and immigration fugitives." According to the agency, 95% of those arrested were male, and they came from a dozen different countries. ICE officials said that 150 of the approximately 160 arrestees had previous criminal records, and that "many" (the actual numeric breakdown was not given) of those criminal records were for "serious or violent offenses, such as child sex crimes, weapons charges, and assault." Of the approximately 10 non-criminals taken into custody, five had final orders of removal or had been previously deported. ICE officials have said they will have finals numbers and statistics from this week's arrests available on Monday.

ICE officials maintained that this week's arrests didn't signal any kind of change or new policy under President Trump. "While this week’s operation was an enforcement surge, the focus was no different than the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis," Kice said.

"This is what immigration enforcement looks like. It's happens everyday. But it's happening large scale," Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, said at an emergency rally held Thursday night. At a press conference held Friday morning at CHIRLA, Salas reiterated her position that "yesterday was not an ordinary day," and that the arrests were instead emblematic of coordinated raids.

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"Those arrestees not being criminally prosecuted will be processed administratively for removal from the United States. Those who have outstanding orders of deportation, or who returned to the United States illegally after being deported, are subject to immediate removal from the country," Kice said. "The remaining individuals are in ICE custody awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge, or pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future."

Jennie Pasquarella, director of immigrants rights for the ACLU in California, told the L.A. Times that this week's actions weren't necessarily indicative of a hard line shift under the Trump administration, though "she did express concerns about reports that some undocumented immigrants without criminal histories were caught up in the week-long operation." It's important to note that similar sweeps occurred under President Obama; the Times reports that 112 people were taken into custody last year during a four-day operation targeting individuals with criminal histories.

CHIRLA will be holding Know Your Rights workshops at their Westlake offices every hour on the hour starting at 10 a.m. Friday. If you or someone you know has recently been detained by ICE, you can contact CHIRLA at 1 (888) 624-4752.