U.S. Customs and Immigration officials confirmed Tuesday evening they had arrested more than 150 undocumented immigrants in Northern California over the weekend, describing half of them as known criminals aided by sanctuary policies.
But immigration activists were quick to push back that many of those arrested in the sweep were law-abiding community members unfairly targeted by the federal agency.
"It's something frustrating to hear," said Edwin Valdez, a Sacramento immigrant activist who runs a hotline documenting ICE actions. "I am the guy that is receiving all of these calls. I had a mother of five on the line today and she was crying and really letting herself go about how the pickup of her husband is going to affect the family. ... To hear that ICE is giving this narrative that all of these people they picked up are evildoers, it's just really painful to hear. ... It's left me dumbfounded, speechless and ultimately just frustrated with everything that is going on."
In Sacramento, ICE said it had detained a Mexican national who had criminal convictions for domestic violence, possession of a firearm, burglary, battery on a police officer and other charges.
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A second Sacramento arrest involved the detention of a Guatamalan citizen with a conviction for false imprisonment.
ICE said agents also detained a Stockton man from Mexico who had been convicted for lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 years old.
Immigration officials did not identify those arrested, but Valdez and other activists said as of Tuesday night they had identified 10 arrests in Sacramento. Booking logs at the county jail show at least 12 people booked by ICE on Sunday in Sacramento County jail.
The ICE statement also called out sanctuary cities, including San Francisco and Oakland, as creating a danger for ICE enforcement agents and communities, and increasing "collateral arrests" of those not targeted by immigration officials.
"Sanctuary jurisdictions like San Francisco and Oakland shield dangerous criminal aliens from federal law enforcement at the expense of public safety," said ICE deputy director Thomas Homan in the statement.. "While the vast majority of cities in America do cooperate with ICE, others like San Francisco and Oakland force ICE to focus additional resources to conduct at-large arrests in the community, putting officers, the general public and aliens at greater risk."
Sacramento is also a sanctuary city that has set aside money to fund legal and outreach services for immigrants.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg shot back at the idea of "collateral arrests" as an unavoidable outcome of sanctuary policies Tuesday night.
"It's another cruel attempt to intimidate and scare innocent Dreamers and hard working immigrants," he said. "It won't work. We will not cower; we will not shrink. We will will stand strong and proudly fight for our families and our kids. The only collateral impact will be the historic shame visited upon an administration that purposely stoked division and discord and made the lives of hard working immigrants much harder than they had to be."
Valdez encouraged those affected by ICE actions to know their legal rights.
"In the face of intimidation tactics used by ICE we make a call to community to respond with power, not panic," he said. "The conduct and manner of these operations once again provides clear evidence of the administrations use of enforcement to harm the mental well being of communities of color, our community members whom are are neighbors."
Sacramento Bee reporter Nashelly Chavez contributed to this report.