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SACRAMENTO, Calif. California legislative
leaders on Monday demanded detailed information from the Trump
administration on immigration arrests and raids in the most
populous U.S. state, amid growing concern that agents are
targeting non-criminals for deportation.
Citing reports that agents for U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, or ICE, had gone to churches, schools and
courthouses to find and arrest illegal immigrants, the
legislature used the federal Freedom of Information Act to
request all records of enforcement actions taken or planned
since Republican Donald Trump was sworn in as president on Jan.
“Despite saying he’d only target dangerous criminals,
President Trump’s executive orders target practically every
undocumented person in California,” said Senate President Pro
Tem Kevin de León, who signed the request along with Assembly
Speaker Anthony Rendon.
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
California is home to nearly 3 million illegal immigrants
among a total non-citizen population of 5.4 million, according
to the legislature and the Public Policy Institute of
California, making the state a crucible for Trump’s new
get-tough immigration policies.
Trump recently broadened the categories of people who could
be targeted for immigration enforcement to anyone who had been
charged with a crime, removing an Obama-era exception for people
convicted of traffic misdemeanors.
He has also proposed faster deportation for illegal
immigrants who cannot show they have been in the country for
more than two years.
But Trump has also said agents are targeting dangerous
criminals, not ordinary people, and that he will not take action
against those protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood
Arrivals program, or DACA, which protects young people brought
to the United States as children.
Earlier this month, immigration officers nationwide arrested
more than 680 people in the country illegally in a broad
enforcement action that alarmed many immigrant groups.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said on Feb. 13
that the operations, conducted in at least a dozen states, were
But immigrant rights advocates said the operations were more
sweeping than those conducted during the administration of
former Democratic President Barack Obama.
Protests erupted in several states over the raids and other
arrests. Among those arrested were an Arizona mother who was
detained when she went in for an meeting with ICE, and a
23-year-old man detained near Seattle who held a work permit
under DACA but who agents said had gang affiliations.
In their letter, de Leon and Rendon said that 74 percent of
California’s non-citizens live in households with citizens,
meaning mass deportations could separate spouses from each
other, or children from their parents.
“All of these parents and children are potentially at risk
of separation at the hands of ICE,” the lawmakers wrote.
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