Demonstrators hit the streets of Los Angeles to protest against reported raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials which allegedly led to more than 100 people being detained.
The protesters gathered near the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles to peacefully protest the raids on Thursday, KTLA reported.
They closed off a street to through traffic for about two hours, chanting “No hate! No fear! Immigrants are welcome here!”
Many of the demonstrators held signs which included phrases such as “Stop separating families” and “Immigrants in, Racists out.”
The ICE raids were conducted at homes across three Southern California counties on Thursday, with spokesperson Lori Haley saying the searches were “targeted and lead driven.”
“Examples would include known street gang members, child sex offenders, and deportable foreign nationals with significant drug trafficking convictions,” she said. “To that end, ICE’s routine immigration enforcement actions are ongoing.”
However, the communications director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of LA (CHIRLA), Jorge-Mario Cabrera, disagreed with Haley, claiming that most of those who were detained were people with deportation orders who had no criminal background, or their family members who were home at the time but told officials they lacked documentation.
Although ICE has not released information on how many people were arrested in the raids, advocates say more than 100 people were hauled away. Sixty of those detained were Mexican nationals, according to CHIRLA executive director Angelica Salas, as cited by the Los Angeles Times.
CHIRLA’s director of policy, Joseph Villa, said the organization has had “hundreds of calls to our offices as well from attorneys indicating that their clients have been picked up.”
“ICE is not releasing their names. ICE is not allowing them to see their attorney,” he told KTLA.
California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León said in a Thursday statement that he has “asked federal officials to disclose how many children, men, and women they have detained; what the processing time will be; what the rationale is for their detention; and I asked that everyone be offered access to an attorney.”
However, an ICE official told the Los Angeles Times on condition of anonymity that claims that 100 people were arrested are “grossly exaggerated.”
The agency has also denied that the raids had anything to do with President Trump’s crackdown on immigration.
But De León disagrees, stating that “it is now clear the Trump administration is not concerned with public safety, they are only focused on ripping hard-working men, women, and children from their families and communities. Mass deportations will not make us safer, instead they will simply undermine our state’s economy.”
There are an estimated 1 million immigrants without proper documentation living in Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to a Thursday report by the Pew Research Center.