Is Immigration and Customs Enforcement giving California a giant middle finger for passing SB 54, “Sanctuary State” legislation?

Well, kinda.

In “Operation Safe City,” conducted over multiple days this week, ICE rounded up hundreds of people throughout the US who were wanted for immigration violations. Nearly 500 people were arrested, with about 130 of them coming from California.

A press release from ICE stated that the operation focused on jurisdictions where “ICE deportation officers are denied access to jails and prisons to interview suspected immigration violators or jurisdictions where ICE detainers are not honored.”

Though proponents of illegal immigration claim these raids harm innocent, hard-working people just seeking a better life, 300 of the 498 arrestees had a criminal record. One man arrested in the Los Angeles area  is a documented Colonia Chiques gang member who “rammed multiple law enforcement vehicles in an effort to evade arrest” and was in possession of a loaded handgun at the time of his arrest. Oh, and he was on probation.

Why wasn’t a documented gang member who was known to be illegally in the country not turned over to ICE by local authorities when he was at the jail? That is most likely because of LAPD Chief Charlie Beck’s extremely stringent rules on when jail officials can cooperate with ICE, which is effectively never, as I wrote about in January.

Also, isn’t it more dangerous for ICE to attempt to apprehend people like that man in the neighborhoods, where they have access to firearms, than at the courthouse or jail? As an ICE officer, who spoke to RedState on condition of anonymity, explained, yes. The officer said that even if  local law enforcement agencies or jurisdictions refuse to honor detainers, ICE still knows where these criminals are and will go into the neighborhoods to find and detain them.

And that result – armed ICE officers showing up in illegal immigrant communities and raiding homes, and the news coverage photos that come from it – could be the precise point of sanctuary city/state legislation. The officer said [emphasis added]:

I can tell you that sanctuary jurisdictions don’t stop the work. The pressure to locate and remove aliens remains the same. The priorities remain the same. Criminal Aliens and Gangs remain top priority. The only thing that’s changed is the location of the pick-ups.

As ICE continues to show up in communities (as a direct result of being forced into those communities by sanctuary bills), fear, confusion, and outrage will continue to grow. Illegal Immigrants will feel (and will be) less safe than they were before.

See, before, ICE would simply go down to the county or city jail and grab their detainee and remove them. Now…they’re going out into the neighborhoods more often instead. I can’t imagine that any illegal alien prefers ICE sweeping neighborhoods and community centers rather than just going to get their targets from the jail. It does not provide any refuge for them as a whole, in fact, now it puts the whole illegal alien community more at risk.

ICE Acting Director Tom Homan stated that, as is the agency’s policy, their focus in Operation Safe City was weeding out illegal aliens with criminal records or who have been arrested and not on participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Talia Inlender of Public Counsel, who advocates for illegal aliens, doubts that the raids aimed to rid neighborhoods of a nefarious criminal element. She told the Los Angeles Times: “It’s clearly a political move that is not actually geared toward public safety.” The ICE officer we spoke to heartily disagreed.

“To decide to protect CRIMINAL aliens from being removed by ICE, and put law-abiding US Citizens at risk, is as backwards an idea as it can possibly be.

“When ICE places a detainer on a subject who has been arrested for a crime, they are attempting to remove a CRIMINAL ALIEN. Sanctuary jurisdictions who refuse to honor those detainers do nothing to protect the illegal alien population as a whole, the greater portion, who commit no crimes. THE ONLY group of illegal aliens that sanctuary jurisdictions are protecting are CRIMINAL aliens.”

The sanctuary state bill California legislators passed, SB 54, has not yet been signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. When asked about the effect of the statewide bill, the officer replied:

To decide to protect CRIMINAL aliens from being removed by ICE, and put law-abiding US Citizens at risk, is as backwards an idea as it can possibly be. But you know what, it’s okay. The work of ICE doesn’t stop.

Through such policies progressive politicians give illegals false hope. These politicians prey on the fears and hopes of a vulnerable population and hold emotion-driven rallies promising protection they can’t deliver.

People in immigrant communities should pay attention to the ICE officer’s bottom-line assessment of sanctuary laws. “Passage of sanctuary jurisdiction policies is nothing more than fools gold for the illegal immigrants. They are still subject to being picked up at any time.”