Capitol Alert

ICE arrests of immigrants without criminal records more than double in early 2017

23-year-old Juan Vega is escorted by agents into the ICE downtown Los Angeles staging facility on April 18, 2017.
23-year-old Juan Vega is escorted by agents into the ICE downtown Los Angeles staging facility on April 18, 2017. Los Angeles Times

A surge in immigrant arrests under President Donald Trump has alarmed activists across the country.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement data released earlier this month showed that between Jan. 22 and April 29, the first 100 days after Trump signed an executive order to enhance immigration enforcement, arrests of undocumented immigrants were up 38 percent over the same period last year.

But arrests of those without criminal records – of immigrants whose only violation was being in the country illegally – increased by 156 percent, from 4,242 people in 2016 to 10,845 this year. That seemed to contradict Trump’s campaign promise to focus on the “bad hombres”: drug dealers, gang members and other criminals that he estimated could comprise as many as 3 million of the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living the United States.

The regular threat of enforcement sweeps, including at places like courthouses that some officials believe should be safe spaces, has sprung immigrant rights groups into action. They are ramping up the pressure on California lawmakers to pass a handful of proposals introduced this session to protect undocumented immigrants, including Senate Bill 54, the controversial “sanctuary state” measure that limits how state and local police departments can assist federal immigration authorities, and Assembly Bill 450, which does the same with employers.

The Service Employees International Union will rally, at 10:30 a.m. in Capitol Park near 12th and N streets, to promote the legislation and highlight a recent Human Rights Watch report that found more than 10,000 immigrant parents of citizen children are detained in California annually.

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SOMETHING’S COOKING: Are you feeling that heat? No, not the looming Sacramento summer. It’s time again for the California Roast, the annual tradition in which a prominent state politician gets lampooned by his or her colleagues to raise money for the nonprofit California Center for Civic Participation’s education programs. Joining that esteemed club – which includes then-Govs. Pete Wilson and Gray Davis, legendary Assembly Speaker Willie Brown and future House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy – is Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes. He’ll be on the receiving end of (likely very filthy) jokes from 2014 honoree and California Republican Party Chair Jim Brulte; 1999 target and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigoisa; Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin; lobbyist Amy Brown; and Mayes’ partner-in-bromance, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who got perhaps a bit too honest about the legislative process at last year’s event. The roast, 8 p.m. at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel on J Street, is preceded by a reception and dinner starting at 5:30 p.m.

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PLAN AHEAD: It’s a crucial deadline week in the Legislature, with all bills required to pass out of their house of origin by Friday. To get through about 700 measures on their collective agendas, the Senate and the Assembly will be holding extra floor sessions. The fun kicks off today when the Senate reconvenes at noon. According to the pro tem’s office, the upper house aims to take up 80 bills, then another 100 tomorrow and 75 on Thursday, leaving Friday open for any spillover. The Assembly, which has to clear approximately 440 bills, meets at 1 p.m. Sessions are also scheduled for 10 a.m. the rest of the week.

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RISE UP: Have you ever inhaled the helium from an inflated balloon to give yourself a funny, high-pitched voice? Turns out it was not a great idea. That’s just one of the helpful tips for “smart balloon practices” that the Balloon Council has to share. The national organization of manufacturers, distributors and retailers is touring the country to promote the “proper handling” of balloons for children and their families, and will make its next stop in Capitol Park near 12th and L streets at 10:30 a.m. The delegation includes “spokesballoon” Farady, named for the English scientist Michael Faraday, who invented the rubber balloon in 1824 for use in his research with hydrogen. Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, who has legislation to clarify that willfully releasing a foil balloon is a crime in California, is also expected to attend.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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