On September 4th, 2020, the Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested and detained more than 300 people in a month-long operation across Southern California. The raids occurred despite the fact that Los Angeles County was being hit hard by COVID-19 over the summer. Undocumented immigrants swept up in the enforcement operations are now facing deportation from the United States.
ICE Says it Targeted People With Criminal Records, But Admits Collateral Arrests Occurred
In a press release announcing the conclusion of the operation, ICE claims that the agency was targeting people who have criminal records. However, a spokesperson for ICE openly admitted that “collateral” arrests were made during the raids.
As an example, the Los Angeles Times cites the case of a 45-year-old man of Mexican origin. The agency states that the man had no criminal record of any kind. He was simply driving a vehicle with another man who was on the agency’s “list”. Both men were detained by officers.
Unfortunately, this type of incident is far from rare. Large scale immigration raids often have resulted in people being detained who were not among those initially targeted by the agency. Collateral arrests often include family members, household members, and neighbors.
Advocates are Raising Serious Health and Safety Concerns
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the United States. As of early September, more than 6.3 million cases of the virus have been confirmed nationwide. Of course, lack of available testing remains a problem. The true number of cases is undoubtedly much higher. Some public health experts believe that as many as 50 million Americans have contracted the dangerous respiratory disease since March.
During these difficult times, our resources should be focused on protecting the health and well-being of vulnerable people. Public health officials and immigrant rights advocates are raising serious questions about the fact that ICE is continuing sweeping immigration raids even as COVID-19 spreads further. There is a risk of the virus being spread during interactions.
Update: ICE COVID-19 Enforcement/Removal Guidance
Recently, ICE updated its COVID-19 enforcement and removal guidelines. According to the latest press release, ICE will conduct additional testing of asymptomatic staff members and limit transfers of detainees between jurisdictions in an effort to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Still, many people are cautioning that the agency is simply not doing enough to protect vulnerable immigrants. COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred within many immigration detention facilities.
Call Our Deportation Defense Lawyer for Immediate Help
At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our immigration attorneys have extensive experience representing people in deportation and removal cases. We will protect your rights and help you find the best path forward. If you or your loved one receive a Notice to Appear (NTA), our attorneys are here as a resource. Call our Los Angeles office now for a confidential initial appointment. We serve communities in Southern California and beyond.