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Border & Immigration

Immigration Agency's Latest California Focus Hits San Diego

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement make an arrest in Los Angeles, Feb. 7, 2017.
Charles Reed AP
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement make an arrest in Los Angeles, Feb. 7, 2017.

Federal immigration agents arrested 115 people during a three-day operation in the San Diego area amid heightened tensions between the Trump administration and the state of California over immigration enforcement.

It was U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's third California operation in barely a month, following one in the Los Angeles area that resulted in 212 arrests and one in Northern California that had 232 arrests.

In a news release, the agency said the three-day sweep focused on "public safety threats," adding that 50 of the people arrested were convicted criminals, and seven others illegally re-entered the U.S. after removal, which is a felony.


The San Diego Rapid Response Network, a collaboration of immigrant rights organizations, said at least 22 of the apprehensions were collateral arrests. The group said the nearly two dozen arrests occurred in North County on Tuesday, the day of President Donald Trump’s San Diego visit to view border wall prototypes.

RELATED: Following Immigration Arrest Caught On Video, National City Residents Strategize To Protect Undocumented Neighbors

"One was on their way to work, another was just leaving his house … in the process of finding the individuals they were going after, (ICE) came across other individuals that did not have lawful immigration status and were picked up," said Kate Clark, an immigration attorney for the Jewish Family Service of San Diego and network member.

The federal agency's news release partially attributed collateral arrests to California's laws shielding immigrants.

"While the vast majorities of cities in America do cooperate with ICE, state laws in California force ICE to focus additional resources to conduct at-large arrest(s) in the community, putting officers, the general public and aliens at greater risk and increase the risk of collateral arrests," the release said.


Daily local arrest figures for ICE were not immediately available to compare the number of arrests this week, but agency spokeswoman Lauren Mack said the three-day raid was "definitely a large-scale operation."

Usually targeted operations are limited to a day, Mack said.

In the Northern California operation, the agency's acting director Thomas Homan said 800 "criminals" eluded capture because Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned the public hours before it began. Homan's statement, repeated by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, drew widespread doubts. The agency's spokesman in San Francisco said it was false and quit over it.

The administration recently sued California over immigration policies.