A man with an attempted murder conviction and a woman who has seven convictions for driving under the influence were among 150 people arrested this week in the Southland by federal agents targeting “criminal aliens” and other immigration violators, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced.
In making the announcement, ICE officials said in a statement Wednesday that “the lack of cooperation from local jails is negatively impacting public safety.”
About 40 percent of those arrested in the Sunday-through-Tuesday sweep had previously been released by local law enforcement agencies despite ICE detainers asking arresting agencies to notify immigration officers prior to the suspect’s release from custody, according to the ICE officials, who said that nearly all arrestees had prior criminal convictions.
“The state laws preventing ICE from working in the jails is significantly impacting public safety by letting serious repeat offenders back out onto our streets,” said Thomas Giles, acting field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Los Angeles. “Our presence would be focused in the jails, rather than in the streets, and safer for all involved, if ICE could again coordinate transfers of criminal aliens with local jails.”
Of those arrested, 76 were taken into custody in Los Angeles County, 34 in Orange County, and 16 in Riverside County. The arrestees — 138 men and 12 women — are from a dozen countries, with the majority of them — 123 — from Mexico, according to ICE.
In interviews with reporters at the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles, Giles said he wanted to clarify “the misconception that ICE goes out there and does random raids and sweeps and just picks people up.”
The 150 arrestees were “targeted,” he said, and agents had performed surveillance and done background checks before making the arrests.
Giles said the agency is continually hampered by Senate Bill 54 — the so-called “sanctuary state” bill — which, among other things, prohibits state and local law enforcement from using resources to investigate or arrest people for immigration enforcement purposes.
As a result of the lack of cooperation from local jails, “we have to go out in the communities to find these people — and it puts community members and officers at risk,” Giles said.
According to ICE, among those arrested during the operation were:
— A 36-year old citizen of Mexico arrested in Huntington Beach on Sept. 24, who had been arrested and released by local law enforcement agencies three times this year despite ICE having a detainer lodged. His convictions include attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, failure to register as a sex offender, driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance.
— A 39-year old citizen of Mexico arrested in Orange on Sept. 24, who has seven DUI charges in just over three years. ICE at least twice lodged detainers with local law enforcement agencies — however those holds were not honored, and she was released from custody.
— A 54-year old citizen of Mexico arrested in Riverside on n Sept. 24, who had been legally present in the U.S. Following convictions for DUI, assault with a deadly weapon, and unlawful intercourse with a child he is now amenable for removal.
— A 47-year old citizen of El Salvador arrested in Valencia on Sept. 23, who had been legally present in the U.S. He failed to depart the country after an immigration judge ordered him removed in 2013 following convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, vehicle theft, battery, and driving under the influence. In 2014, he was arrested for first degree burglary and domestic violence. ICE lodged a detainer, but it was not honored. He was most recently re-arrested in 2018 for a charge of vandalism. ICE again lodged a detainer, and again it was not honored.
— A 33-year old citizen of Mexico arrested in Los Angeles on Sept. 23, who was convicted of four counts of lewd acts upon a child and sentenced to more than three years in prison. He is legally present in the U.S., but this conviction renders him amenable for removal to be determined by an immigration judge.
— A 39-year old citizen of Mexico arrested in Garden Grove on Sept. 24, who has prior convictions for vehicle theft and for possession of a controlled substance. He also has arrests for driving without a license and violating probation. He was previously returned or removed to Mexico seven times. ICE officers placed a detainer on him when he was last in custody, but it was not honored.
Four of the individuals arrested during the enforcement action have been accepted for federal prosecution for re-entry after deportation, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, ICE officials said. Those not being criminally prosecuted will be processed for removal from the country.
The arrestees included nationals from Argentina (1), Armenia (1), Belize (2), Canada (1), El Salvador (6), Guatemala (9), Honduras (3), Lebanon (1), Mexico (123), Nicaragua (1), Singapore (1), Philippines (1).