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L.A. Mayor Says He's 'Too Pro-Constitution' to Support New ICE Raids

(U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement photo)

The mayor of Los Angeles said he’s not getting “transparency” about the recent raids conducted by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and vowed to “continue to protect our people.”

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in a statement Monday that ICE launched “a series of targeted enforcement operations across the country” last week that were routine, with targets including “convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges.”

ICE officers in the Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York City areas arrested more than 680 during the sweeps, he said, and “of those arrested, approximately 75 percent were criminal aliens.”

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti told MSNBC this morning that while he received “some initial briefings from ICE officials, it’s unclear how they’re targeting people and whether there’s any new policies.”

“We don’t want the grandmother who forgot to pay the parking ticket separated from her family going back to a country she may not even know,” he said. “There was a range, of course there’s dangerous criminals and we want those off the street. But if somebody was driving without a license and they’re the primary breadwinner for their family, let’s make them a citizen. Let’s find a way for them to be here legally rather than disrupting the social fabric in a city that one-third of our GDP comes from contributions of our great immigrant community.”

The mayor confirmed what activists have been saying about “collateral” arrests during the service of search warrants.

“I know for a fact from the briefing I received from ICE that there were people who had no other violation besides being here unlawfully. In other words they came over without documentation. But some of them were caught up wrong place, wrong time. They’re going after somebody, somebody else was in the apartment and they got taken up,” he said.

“Also there’s a wide range of what those criminal penalties were. And, yes, I do know for a fact that for instance some of them were driving without a license. Well, California now gives licenses to everybody. If that was a 4- or 5-year-old charge, that seems to be not the people we should be targeting. I’d like to see our resources targeted towards those people who are violent and serious criminals. Not folks who are contributing members of this economy and our community.”

Garcetti said he’s “too pro-family” and “too pro-economy” to support the sweeps, noting that 54 percent of businesses in his city have been started by immigrants.

“I guess I’m too pro-Constitution to say that our local law enforcement officials should continue a policy that we do not deputize them as immigration officials. That’s something that’s four decades old and I’m too pro-police to stop listening to my police professionals who say, we need that trust in the communities we police. We should be focused on local crime,” the mayor continued, adding “it’s been a good week for the Constitution” as people learn their rights.

“We want to work with this administration, but I think mayors around the country with our Chambers of Commerce and business people are trying to make that argument to let people know how important immigrants are to America,” Garcetti said.