Civil rights groups said Thursday that they’ve been alerted by “credible sources,” including attorneys, that immigration “sweeps” are taking place in the greater Los Angeles area. However, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official could not confirm a specific operation and called any Thursday actions “routine.”
The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) said in a news release Thursday afternoon that the immigration raids are taking place in at least five locations — Van Nuys, San Bernardino, Downey, Santa Paula and Oxnard.
A number of immigrants “have been detained and are being taken to the downtown ICE office,” CHIRLA said in a statement.
Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for ICE’s western region, said their actions were not unusual, and that she could not confirm a specific operation.
“We’re doing routine enforcement ... as we’ve always done,” Kice said. “Nothing has changed.”
In an emailed statement, ICE said it conducts “enforcement actions every day around the country and here in Southern California as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to uphold public safety and border security.”
“Our operations are targeted and lead driven, prioritizing individuals who pose a risk to our communities,” the statement said. “To that end, ICE’s routine immigration enforcement actions are ongoing and we make arrests every day.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California also tweeted out that “ICE conducted multiple raids of homes across the city.”
About 40 people, including CHIRLA staff, gathered for a “vigil” Thursday evening at the Alameda Detention Center in downtown L.A., where one CHIRLA attorney said about 100 people were being held.
The protesters, some carrying signs and holding candles, chanted “Let them out!” and marched back and forth in front of driveway of detention center — apparently to block cars from coming out.
A Department of Homeland Security official said that reports that 100 immigration-related arrests had been made Thursday were “grossly exaggerated.”
Staff writer Elizabeth Chou contributed to this report.
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