California legislators have filed a Freedom of Information Act request to learn what federal immigration authorities are up to in their state.
The request was filed this week by California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, both Democrats, for “information about recent Department of Homeland Security policies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement activities.”
Federal authorities appear to be cracking down on immigration with a recent “surge in enforcement activities,” the lawmakers said in a statement. But federal authorities have provided “limited information,” despite repeated requests, the statement continued. California is home to 5.4 million non-citizen immigrants, and almost half of all children in the state have at least one parent who is an immigrant.
“When the safety of Californians is at stake, we must demand greater transparency, with the backing of federal courts if necessary,” the lawmakers said. “The lives and physical safety of many thousands of Californians —citizens and immigrants, documented and undocumented — depend upon knowing this information.”
Immigration authorities arrested hundreds of people in February in raids across the country. Dozens of those seized had no criminal record. An ICE official said the activity was “routine.”
Rendon and DeLeon seek details on recent federal enforcement in California, including the massing of immigration agents outside a Southern California church shelter in order to “ambush, arrest and detain homeless individuals seeking warmth there.” They also cite the case of an immigrant woman attempting to obtain an order of protection against her husband in a courthouse, where agents escorted her out and arrested her.
The lawmakers demand information on ICE and Department of Homeland Security enforcement in California near “sensitive” areas, such as at schools, hospitals and churches; detainees’ access to lawyers; and treatment of young people in the Dreamers program who were brought to the U.S. as children.
The request also seeks information about people detained and deported in an intensive five-day sweep in Los Angeles County last month that netted some 161 individuals.
An ICE spokeswoman provided a link to the agency’s policies concerning sensitive locations, and cautioned that some information about detainees may not be available because of privacy concerns, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Santa Cruz police blasted federal officials last month for lying, using a crackdown on a local gang as an excuse to secretly round up undocumented immigrants.
Immigration enforcers said they felt constrained under former President Barack Obama. But now, after President Donald Trump campaigned on an anti-immigration platform, agents are feeling emboldened, according to unions representing Border Patrol agents and ICE officers.