- Immigration and Customs Enforcement made less than half the arrests in April than it did in March in Los Angeles due in part to changes instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Approximately 230 people were arrested in the LA area in March, compared to 80 who were arrested in April, according to the LA Times.
- In March, after criticism for continuing to make arrests, the agency announced it would shift its efforts to enforcement against individuals who posed “public safety risks.”
- ICE continues to face criticism from advocates who say the agency is not doing enough to protect its detainees from the novel coronavirus.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, made 65% fewer arrests in the month of April than it did in the month of March in the Los Angeles area, according to the Los Angeles Times.
ICE made around 230 arrests in March and about 80 people in April, according to the report.
The agency received backlash for continuing to conduct raids and make arrests amid statewide social distancing orders, enacted in California and across the US. As the Los Angeles Times reported, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti called the agency’s actions “unnecessary fear and panic in those very same families we are trying to protect.”
“Additional fear at a moment of extreme fear is the last thing that families need to face,” Garcetti said in March, according to the LA Times.
On March 18, the agency announced it would “focus enforcement on public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds.”
In the LA area, agents have shifted focus to arresting individuals suspected or convicted of murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, drug offenses, human smuggling, fraud, and theft, ICE said, according to the Friday report from the LA Times.
“Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has presented, our officers have maintained the utmost professionalism and vigilance during this chaotic time to make arrests that have helped ensure the safety and security of our communities,” David Marin, ICE’s LA director of enforcement and removal operations, told the California newspaper.
Even with the announced changes in immigration enforcement, ICE has continued to face criticism over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Business Insider reported on Friday that detainees at an ICE processing center in Louisiana said they were not receiving basic supplies like masks, disinfectants, gloves, or hand sanitizer. Detainees and their advocates also alleged the agency continued to transfer detainees from facility to facility, increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Just under half of the ICE detainees who have been tested for COVID-19 had positive results, according to the previous Business Insider report.
There are still more than 29,000 people in detention centers across the US, according to ICE. The agency also continues to carry out deportations. Approximately 18,000 people were deported by ICE in March and 3,000 were deported in the first 11 days of April, a spokesperson for ICE previously told Business Insider.