California is home to many sanctuary cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. However, despite living within a sanctuary city, many immigrants have had to contend with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In fact, in one three-day sweep that occurred in northern California, ICE arrested over 150 people. While half of the people arrested had criminal records, that still leaves a sizable portion of people whom ICE arrested for only violating immigration law.
The role of government officials
One controversial aspect of the sweep relates to how the mayor of Oakland responded to the ICE raid. Libby Schaaf, mayor of Oakland, sent out an alert 24 hours prior to a suspected ICE raid, telling residents of the potential situation. Oakland is a sanctuary city, and Schaaf later said she had no regrets for alerting citizens of the predicament. She wanted to keep families who have not committed any violent crimes together. However, ICE agents expressed their displeasure at the situation because several immigrants who had committed criminal acts, including one individual who received convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, evading a peace officer and burglary, are still at large.
ICE does not solely look at criminal records
If someone is in the United States without going through the government’s required immigration channels, then he or she could face arrest from ICE. While ICE claims time and time again that agents only look for people with criminal records, the federal agency routinely arrests and deports people who are in the country without the proper documentation. ICE’s acting director, Thomas Homan, even said in December, “If you’re in this country illegally, we’re looking for you and we’re going to look to apprehend you.” In just over 10 years of being a government agency, ICE has expanded its powers immensely.