Los Angeles-area lawyers say immigration arrests have increased

FILE PHOTO: Immigration attorneys reported Thursday receiving higher than usual numbers of calls from families whose relatives have been arrested by ICE agents.
FILE PHOTO: Immigration attorneys reported Thursday receiving higher than usual numbers of calls from families whose relatives have been arrested by ICE agents. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Federal officials have ramped up arrests of undocumented immigrants, Los Angeles-area immigration lawyers said on Thursday.

Karla Navarrete, an attorney with CHIRLA, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, said she and other immigration lawyers received a higher than usual number of calls from families of people arrested by immigration authorities. 

Navarrete said she talked to a man in custody who was arrested in Van Nuys. 

"This person has an old deportation order from 2011, I believe ... and they have identified him and picked him up. He has no convictions but he has a deportation order," Navarrete said.

She said the man has three children who are United States citizens. 

Under the Obama administration, the policy had been to prioritize the arrests of undocumented residents who had committed serious crimes. It's unclear if the latest arrests represent a new policy direction under President Donald Trump's administration.

CHIRLA and ACLU planned a vigil Thursday night at the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown L.A. to respond to what they described as a series of raids conducted by ICE agents with as many as 100 people detained in areas like Downey and Van Nuys.

Protesters hit the streets of downtown LA on Thursday night in response to the raids, even blocking the entrance to the 101 Freeway at one point.

Angelica Salas, executive director of CHIRLA, told KPCC media partner NBC4 there are things they want undocumented people to know.

"We want to make sure that individuals understand that they don't have to sign anything that could jeopardize them, that they have a right to an attorney," she said.
  
ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley says immigration agents "conduct enforcement actions every day" which she described as "routine" … she says those actions target - in her words - "individuals who pose a risk to our communities"

CHIRLA will hold "Know Your Rights" training sessions throughout the day today (FRI).

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said claims that ICE personnel arrested 100 people in one day are "grossly exaggerated." But they would not say how many people were detained. ICE officials said that routine immigration enforcement actions are ongoing.

CHIRLA spokesman Jorge-Mario Cabrera said even if there were "70, or 50 arrests," that's still far above the norm. Cabrera said his group typically hears of only a handful of arrests on any given day.

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