Los Angeles (AFP) - The "emotional impact" on families hit by the crackdown on undocumented California immigrants could be reduced if local authorities scrap "sanctuary" laws and cooperate with ICE, the immigration police's Los Angeles chief said Thursday.
California declared itself a "sanctuary" state in 2017, introducing laws that stop local police from cooperating with federal authorities in the capture of illegal immigrants, or from turning prisoners over to the federal agency for deportation.
As a result Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which has gained more power under the administration of President Donald Trump, carries out its own searches for undocumented immigrants within California communities.
Sanctuary laws "endanger the public by prohibiting local law enforcement agencies from working with ICE or even sharing essential information," David Marin told a Los Angeles press conference. "Sanctuary policies are protecting these criminal aliens."
California, the most populous state in the country, is generally at odds with Trump on issues like immigration. Hispanics are the state's largest minority, with 4.9 million living in Los Angeles alone, according to the Pew Institute.
According to Marin, this week 155 undocumented immigrants were detained in the Los Angeles area for deportation. Some 79 had been through local prisons and been released despite ICE reporting that they were wanted for deportation.
"The men and women of ICE -- they are fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, they understand the emotional impact that it has, when you arrest somebody, especially in front of family members and in front of children ... that's devastating for those children as well as other family members," said Marin.
"That's something that we would rather not do."
He added: "Because we can't work with local law enforcement to take custody of individuals inside the jail, we have to go out into the community more. So we're out there encountering people at their homes, at their places of employment."
Marin said the 155 detained were not captured in raids, which he insisted are not ICE policy -- although 680 people were detained in a Mississippi operation last month amid Trump's calls for mass deportations.