Federal agents conduct sweeping immigration enforcement raids in at least 6 states
U.S. immigration authorities launched a series of raids, traffic stops and checkpoints in at least half a dozen states across the country on Thursday and Friday, sweeping up an unknown number of undocumented immigrants, immigration lawyers and advocates said.
The raids, which appeared to target scores of undocumented immigrants, including those without criminal records, mark the first largescale episode of immigration enforcement inside the United States since President Trump's Jan. 26 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.
It also appeared to signal a departure from the Obama administration's prioritized immigration enforcement against criminals. Trump has pledged to deport up to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.
Word of the raids quickly circulated among immigrants, activists and on social media, creating such widespread panic in immigrant communities that a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said the department had decided to take the unprecedented step of confirming some details of the raids while the raids were ongoing.
Gillian Christensen, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), confirmed that ICE agents this week had raided homes and workplaces in Atlanta, the Los Angeles area and two other cities that she declined to identify, as part of "routine" immigration enforcement actions.
But immigration activists said Friday that they had documented ICE raids of unusual intensity in the last 48 hours in Vista, Pomona and Compton, Calif.; Austin, Dallas and Pflugersville, Texas; Alexandria and Annandale, Va.; Charlotte and Burlington, N.C.; Plant City, Fla.; the Hudson Valley region of New York; and Wichita, Kan.
There were also reports of ICE checkpoints, targeting immigrants for random ID checks, in North Carolina and in Austin.
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