RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The Trump administration is cracking down on so-called sanctuary cities. Yesterday, ICE, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, announced they had arrested nearly 500 undocumented immigrants in a nationwide sweep. NPR's Eric Westervelt has more.
ERIC WESTERVELT, BYLINE: The four-day action ICE called Operation Safe City specifically went after areas that are among the most hostile to the Trump administration's deportation crackdown, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The administration claimed sanctuary city policies allow violent criminals to roam the streets. These jurisdictions often prohibit police or city workers from questioning people about their immigration status and limit cooperation with immigration authorities. ICE, in a statement, said its agents targeted cities, quote, "where ICE deportation officers are denied access to jails and prisons to interview suspected immigration violators."
ICE's acting director, Tom Homan, accused the cities of shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration. Just under two-thirds of those arrested in these raids had criminal records in the United States. Immigration rights groups and lawyers denounced this latest ICE sweep. Francisco Ugarte runs the Immigration Defense Unit at the San Francisco Public Defender's Office. He called it a shameful politically motivated intimidation tactic aimed at getting politicians in sanctuary cities to second guess their policies.
FRANCISCO UGARTE: Raiding communities, separating families, shock-and-awe-type strategy to put fear in the minds of immigrants, where their goal is to engage in a program of mass deportation. And we will resist that.
WESTERVELT: ICE highlighted that among those arrested included a gang member in LA who's facing charges including assault with a deadly weapon. Rights advocates point out that studies show no correlation between public safety and increased deportation. Eric Westervelt, NPR News, San Francisco. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.