A recent Los Angeles Times investigation has uncovered an interesting fact about Southern California, one of the most immigrant-heavy centers in America: ICE arrests in the region have remained steady compared to last year, even as they’ve increased nationwide since Donald Trump took office.
ICE officials in LA claim nothing has changed about their tactics—or their focus—when it comes to arresting undocumented immigrants.
But, as the paper reports, what has changed—thanks to various non-profit and immigrants rights groups—is that more immigrants know their rights.
In fact, the Times story begins with an arrest that doesn’t happen:
The man’s wife came to the door after a few minutes with her own demands: Did the agents have a warrant?
Told that they didn’t, she refused to allow the agents in the house and said her husband would not speak with them.
Thwarted, at least for that day, the agents departed. As they walked to their SUVs, a neighbor stood in the street recording them on his phone.
Dave Marin, director of ICE’s enforcement and removal operations in LA, also told the paper that the agency’s focus has remained on apprehending undocumented immigrants with criminal records—a late directive from Barack Obama’s presidency in 2014.
Another contributing factor to LA’s low ICE arrest rate could be California’s state laws and recent court rulings, which prevent the state’s sheriffs from fully cooperating with ICE agents. Unlike in other states, CA sheriff’s offices can’t just hand over inmates they suspect of being undocumented straight to ICE—they must track down suspects themselves.
The aggressive deportation push, coupled with anti-immigrant legislation being introduced and passed throughout the country, has spurred many Americans to rally around immigrants’ rights.
In February, businesses all over the U.S. shut down as part of a nationwide immigrant strike. Last Monday, nationwide pro-immigrant rallies were held to mark May Day last Monday.
California in particular has been the site of a great deal of broad resistance to Trump’s anti-immigrant crackdown. The state’s top legislators vowed to defy the president in the immediate wake of his election, and they’ve also taken steps to become a “sanctuary state,” extending protections to immigrants throughout their jurisdiction.