House Dems Ponder Whether ICE Raids Linked to White House Anger Over 9th Circuit

A Southern California lawmaker floated the theory that a series of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids across the Los Angeles area Thursday were intended to distract from the Trump administration’s loss at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals over its travel ban executive order.

Protesters demonstrated outside ICE offices on Thursday night after activists reported raids during the day in which 100 people or more were taken into custody.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation officers conduct enforcement actions every day around the country and here in Southern California as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to uphold public safety and border security. Our operations are targeted and lead driven, prioritizing individuals who pose a risk to our communities,” ICE told CBS News.

“Examples would include known street gang members, child sex offenders, and deportable foreign nationals with significant drug trafficking convictions. To that end, ICE’s routine immigration enforcement actions are ongoing and we make arrests every day.”

At a House Democratic Caucus retreat in Baltimore today, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), vice-chair of the caucus, said “the timing of it is quite curious.”

“He would never do anything like that,” chimed in caucus chairman Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.). “The president would never do anything like that.”

Sanchez said she “got word, initial reports of raids that took place in California in Downey, which is just outside my city, Santa Clara, and I believe San Bernardino County.”

‘We are looking into them. We understand that there are more than 100 people that were detained, that physically were removed from their homes and taken into custody. We don’t know much more than that right now, so we’re waiting for news to trickle down,” she said.

“And somebody cynically suggested, although I’m not suggesting, that perhaps on the heels of a tremendous opinion by the Ninth Circuit — which I think, you know, upholds the values of this country and makes clear the separation of powers in the system of checks and balances — that perhaps on the heels of that, that was done intentionally to try and take attention away from a big loss by the Trump administration on what they want to do and what they want to turn America into,” Sanchez added.

Crowley said “the timing is interesting, to say the least.”

“But I want to say this as well, I don’t think Linda nor I, nor any Democratic member of the House or the Senate or just about anyone in the United States would defend anyone who is being deported because they have violated our — a law in a felony form or pose a threat to our nation,” he added. “We just don’t know enough about who the targets were in this. Our experience in the past has been that many families have been torn apart by similar raids in recent years. So, until we have more information, it’s very difficult for us to make those observations.”

“But in light of how the president does react in terms of when times don’t go so great for him — a distraction, take attention away from a loss, an incredibly important loss, but a win for the people of the United States that the Constitution and its values still stand,” Crowley said.

Several dozen people were also swept up in Georgia raids Thursday, with Sarah Owings, chairwoman of the Georgia-Alabama chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, saying ICE is now going after people with traffic offenses instead of prioritizing violent criminals.

“They were using what limited resources they had on things they considered to be important, what was best to keep the country safe,” she said. “Now it’s going to be more like a fire hose. It’s going to go everywhere.”