LA County's "misguided" policy of refusing to hand over detained immigrants to federal agencies is hindering US immigration and customs efforts to protect the public, an agency official said Friday.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, in agreement with Sheriff Alex Villanueva, voted on Tuesday to permanently ban cooperation with ICE agents who lack a judge's warrant for inmates incarcerated in the county jail.
Of the 300 people recently arrested during a month-long ICE enforcement operation in Los Angeles, nearly 30% were "foreign criminals with previously unheard inmates," said Dave Marin, director of enforcement and deportation for ICE Los Angeles.
"We could have gotten the 100 sooner than the local law enforcement agencies had it in custody," Marin said. "But the local law enforcement authorities didn't hand them over to us, and they were released into the community." This underscores the dangers associated with law enforcement non-cooperation caused by misguided policies that often put politics before public safety. & # 39; & # 39;
During the move operation, which lasted from mid-July to mid-August and showed people from 22 countries, ICE agents targeted people arrested, charged or convicted of crimes that cause harm to others.
According to the agency, these crimes included assault, domestic violence and murder, as well as hit and escape, robbery and identity theft.
"These arrests have a significant impact on victims or potential victims of these crimes by focusing our efforts on perpetrators of crimes against others. We have been able to remove imminent threats from our communities and, in many cases, prevent future victimization," Marin said.
At least 100 of those arrested during the operation have been returned to their home countries, with another 19 pending, Marin said during a conference call on Friday.
Those arrested were "people who have been ordered to be removed or who have been removed and returned illegally, or people who have been involved in a deportation process," he said.
Marin said there were no reports of resistance from the communities where the arrests took place.
"The public wants these people to be excluded from the community so that they cannot create more victims," he said.
The Humane Immigration Rights Coalition, California's largest immigration organization, condemned a "cynical attempt by the ICE to portray the illegitimate arrests of our neighbors as" protecting our community. "Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, these arrests are wreaking havoc on immigrant families. & # 39 ; & # 39;
Angelica Salas, managing director of CHIRLA, said ICE practices "bullying".
"As they continue to bypass the due process, they are establishing themselves as an unaccountable, statewide paramilitary force. We need more and no less due process for immigrants and for all. We need more, not less accountability to federal immigration authorities." & # 39; Salas said.
Among those apprehended by ICE was a 44-year-old Mexican national who was arrested in Corona on July 31. Marin said the man's criminal record included convictions for domestic violence, cruelty to a child, spouse battery, and hit and escape. He was removed from the United States by an immigration judge in March 2013 and deported, but illegally returned.
ICE arrested a 32-year-old Honduran national in Los Angeles on August 4, who was convicted of rape in October 2017 in Vista. He had been deported 10 years earlier but illegally returned to the United States and committed the crime.
"We take a victim-centered rather than a criminal approach," said Marin. "That's what we're trying to do … and we will continue to do so, regardless of what politicians say." We're enforcing the law that Congress wrote in the books. & # 39; & # 39;