U.S. immigration officials arrested an MS-13 gang member, a cocaine trafficker, and a child molester during a series of raids in at least six states last week. The raids, targeting illegal immigrants with additional felonies, are part of the first large-scale enforcement operation since President Donald Trump took office.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they targeted known criminals and arrested hundreds of illegal immigrants in what they called an “enforcement surge” that began Feb. 6 and took place in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and the Carolinas. ICE arrested approximately 200 illegal aliens throughout Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and arrested 160 more in 55 communities throughout southern California.
Of the 160 arrested in California, approximately 150 were marked by misdemeanors or “felony criminal histories ranging from child sex crimes to weapons charges to assaults,” according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
“Dangerous criminals who should be swiftly deported are being released in our community,” said David Marin, field office director for ICE, according to the Daily News. “This operation is on par with similar operations. We do this two or three times a year.”
Of the illegal aliens arrested in the Los Angeles area, one was an MS-13 gang member from El Salvador who had been arrested previously in his native country for aggravated extortion, one was a Brazilian wanted for cocaine trafficking, and another was an Australian who had been convicted for carrying out “lewd and lascivious” acts with a child.
Nevertheless, when news circulated that ICE had carried out hundreds of arrests in California and beyond, The Washington Post and other left-leaning news outlets immediately seemed to suggest that the enforcement measures indiscriminately targeted any and all undocumented immigrants simply because a few detainees did not have felony records.
“Officials said the raids targeted known criminals, but they also netted some immigrants without criminal records, an apparent departure from similar enforcement waves during the Obama administration,” The Post wrote. “That undocumented immigrants with no criminal records were arrested and could potentially be deported sent a shock wave through immigrant communities nationwide amid concerns that the U.S. government could start going after law-abiding people.”
The Lose Angeles Times also seemed to express its disapproval over the enforcement surge last week, writing “the arrests, which officials have described as routine and not part of a crackdown promised by President Trump, have sparked fear and anger in immigrant communities.”
The Times also did not see distinguishing between “immigrant communities,” “illegal immigrant communities,” and “criminal illegal immigrant communities” as a suitable distinction to make in its overall narrative.
“The rash of these recent reports about ICE checkpoints and random sweeps and the like, it’s all false, and that’s definitely dangerous and irresponsible,” Marin said, according to the LA Times. “Reports like that create panic, and they put communities and law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger.”
News outlets and activists did not seem to find any comfort in ICE’s explanations — or the Department of Homeland Security’s descriptions, either.
“ICE Fugitive Operations teams are out every day as part of routine, targeted enforcement operations,” said Department of Homeland Security acting press secretary Gillian Christensen, CNN reported. “ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately. ICE only conducts targeted enforcement of criminal aliens and other individuals who are in violation of our nation’s immigration laws.”
In New York City, 95 percent of the 40 illegal immigrants arrested already had criminal convictions, according to an ICE memo.
But that statistic didn’t seem to matter to New York-based activists.
“We are horrified and angered by the ICE raids and activity in the greater New York area that has led to the arrest and detainment of 40 people,” Steve Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said in a statement. “Shame on ICE for putting New York’s immigrant communities — 4 million strong — in a state of panic. These arrests do nothing but tear families apart, hobble our economies, and corrode the bonds of trust that tie our communities together — all under the false pretense of ‘public safety.'”
Liberal politicians, pundits, and activists called exhaustive attention to the 25 percent of illegal aliens arrested last week who did not hold felony convictions.
Democratic politicians also took the opportunity to highlight the nine arrests of illegal immigrants with no misdemeanors or felonies in the Los Angeles area — while largely ignoring the 150 criminal aliens removed from U.S. streets.
“I am outraged to hear of the recent ICE arrests in southern California. If the Trump administration is genuinely concerned about threats to American security, it should prioritize violent felons and others who pose real danger,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) said in a statement.
Outraged activists spurred by ICE’s arrests of 150 criminal aliens and 10 other immigrants illegally in the U.S. took the opportunity to stage protests in Los Angeles Thursday night, blocking streets and the entrance to a freeway.
“Make no mistake about it: These sweeps are directly linked to President Trump’s ‘new normal’ where criminalizing and dehumanizing immigrants is convenient to violate their due process and facilitate their deportation,” Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), a Los Angeles-based organization, said in a statement.
Trump, however, has made it clear that his administration has labeled the apprehension and deportation of criminal illegal aliens as the top priority in cracking down on illegal immigration, even as liberals paint the president’s immigration policies as indiscriminate, unfounded, and “dehumanizing.”
“First and foremost, the president’s been very, very clear that we need to direct agencies to focus on those who are in this country illegally and have a record — a criminal record or oppose a threat to the American people,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in January. “That’s where the priorities are going to be and then we’re going to continue to work through the entire number of folks that are here illegally. But right now the clear focus is on that.”
In response to the liberals’ outrage over last week’s arrests, White House Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller doubled down Sunday during an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” on the president’s commitment to prioritizing the arrests and deportations of criminal illegal aliens.
“And I just want to say this — there has been a lot of coverage in the news about the effects of these enforcement actions on people who are here illegally. And that’s an issue that people are free to discuss,” Miller told host Chuck Todd. “But what’s more important and what should be discussed more is the lives that are being saved, Chuck — the American lives that are being saved because we’re taking enforcement action.”
Blasting liberal activists who are more concerned about “the effects of enforcement on people here illegally” than they are about “the well-being of lawful immigrants and U.S. citizens,” Miller promised the Trump administration is “going to focus on public safety and saving American lives.”
“And we will not apologize for that,” Miller said.
In a tweet Sunday, the president indicated his intention to stand by ICE and the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.
“The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!” Trump tweeted.
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