Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) carried out raids on more than 100 businesses in the Los Angeles area last week, arresting 212 illegal immigrants over the course of several days.
ICE’s operation comes after January rumors that the organization was planning a massive immigration sweep in California in retaliation to the state’s sanctuary immigration policies. The rumored operation was supposed to target California-based businesses employing illegal immigrants, and last week’s operation issued inspection notices to 122 businesses in addition to arresting 212 illegal immigrants, CNBC reported.
“Because sanctuary jurisdictions like Los Angeles prevent ICE from arresting criminal aliens in the secure confines of a jail, our officers are forced to conduct at-large arrests in the community, putting officers, the general public and the aliens at greater risk and increasing the incidents of collateral arrests,” ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan said in a statement. “Fewer jail arrests mean more arrests on the street, and that also requires more resources, which is why we are forced to send additional resources to those areas to meet operational needs and officer safety.”
ICE’s inspection notices alert businesses that ICE will audit their hiring records and levy fines or even criminal charges if they’re found to be making illegal hires. Of those they arrest, 88 percent were convicted criminals, and many are already undergoing deportation procedures.
Previous ICE domestic operations under President Donald Trump have bagged similar numbers of illegal immigrants, but the organization did participate in a massive international gang enforcement operation that charged 3,800 gang members. The coordinated action known as Operation Regional Shield involved law enforcement units from the U.S., El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. U.S. forces arrested more than 70 gang members; Guatemala charged 284; Honduras seized 14 businesses and arrested 12, and El Salvador charged more than 3,400 and made over 1,400 arrests.
Domestically, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been extremely hostile to sanctuary jurisdictions, and Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan holds the same view. Homan slammed Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown for signing California’s sanctuary state bill on Fox News earlier this month. He warned that “California better hold on tight,” because if state lawmakers “don’t want to protect their communities, then ICE will.”
California lawmakers didn’t take Homan’s warning well, with several state legislators writing a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen requesting that she intervene.
“The statements are a direct threat to Californians. These statements are reprehensible and the department’s change in policy will instill fear in our communities,” the letter read. “Acting Director Homan’s attack on sanctuary cities is not only an infringement of state rights but a direct assault on communities of color.”