President Trump Said He'd Target Criminals, But ICE Just Arrested People With No Criminal History

Federal agents raided homes across Southern California in a five-day sweep this week that appears to be part of a stepped-up campaign to detain and deport undocumented immigrants, with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirming in a press release sent to ATTN: that over 160 people have been arrested. In addition to Los Angeles, “There were operations conducted in Atlanta, New York and Chicago,” ICE’s David Marin said in a conference call on Friday.

While President Donald Trump said after his election he would prioritize the removal of dangerous criminals, approximately 10 of those picked up by ICE this week have no criminal history at all, according to the agency.


ICE confirmed the arrests Friday, a day after agency spokesperson Virginia Kice told ATTN: that reports from activists of around 100 people arrested on Thursday were “grossly exaggerated.” ICE says the arrests took place during raids targeting “at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants, and immigration fugitives.”

While Kice told ATTN: the action was “routine,” activists suspect the raids were a show of force, following an executive order signed by Trump declaring “sanctuary cities” like Los Angeles, California, where local law enforcement doesn't generally enforce immigration law, a threat “to the very fabric of our Republic."

Armando Carmona, communications manager for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, told ATTN:, “It’s not routine to be raiding homes and to be separating families the way they’re doing.” Some of those detained have already been deported, he added, citing conversations with their lawyers.


“It’s definitely not a coincidence,” Carmona said of the raids. “Trump has been in office what, two weeks? And a couple days after the executive order we see these raids, and after he’s stated that California is ‘out of control’ because of the policies that we’re trying to put in place to defend immigrants.”

ICE said Friday that “approximately 150" of the roughly 160 people detained in LA this week had some criminal history, which could include traffic offenses such as driving without a license. While the agency said “many” arrestees “had prior felony convictions,” it did not provide a number.

Los Angeles is second only to New York City in terms of its undocumented population, with an estimated 375,000 people residing in the city illegally. An estimated 1.1 million undocumented immigrants live in LA and Orange counties.

Protests erupted in downtown Los Angeles Thursday night, and immigrant rights activists are telling the city's undocumented population to prepare for possibly being forcibly removed from their friends, family and the country they call home.

A Spanish-language flyer shared Friday by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles instructs the undocumented to “make a plan for protecting your family,” which should include consulting with an attorney and starting “to save for your defense ($$$$).”

And should ICE come to your home next, the flyer adds, “DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR.” Instead,  demand that the authorities come back with a search warrant signed by a judge, the flyer states.

“Remember, you have RIGHTS under the Constitution, regardless of your immigration status,” it states, among them: "the right to remain silent" and "the right to talk to a lawyer."