After federal law enforcement officials conducted raids targeting undocumented immigrants in cities across the country this month, D.C. Council member David Grosso and Mayor Muriel Bowser have increased efforts to assist those put in peril by President Donald Trump’s administration’s mandate to rid the U.S. of those who come here seeking a better life.
The raids were carried out in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Baltimore and D.C., where 14 undocumented immigrants reportedly were arrested. Authorities claim those 14 individuals had prior criminal convictions, including felonies.
However, Grosso countered that the actions of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials were unwarranted.
“I think if people commit criminal acts they should be held accountable for that and they should be arrested. That doesn’t mean that we should treat somebody whose undocumented different than somebody who’s here legally and who is a citizen of the United States,” said Grosso, who took his message to television, newspapers and other media.
The at-large councilman and his colleagues, along with Bowser, have provided $500,000 annually in new funds for legal services to aid undocumented immigrants.
“We probably need to put more money behind that effort,” Grosso said. “I just think when the federal government goes looking for problems like this, they end up creating more problems than creating solutions for our community,” he said.
Meanwhile, protesters took to the streets of the District to voice their concerns. Some told television news crews that city officials weren’t doing enough to protect undocumented immigrants. At a news conference, Bowser condemned the raids.
“I asked the chief if we had been alerted by ICE or were aware of any unusual raid activity and we are not,” Bowser said. “So what we want to make clear to everyone is we have trained all of our people about how to respond, for example, if ICE shows up at one of our buildings — school building, a shelter or hospital. … But we haven’t been notified about any specific action by ICE.”
During what it dubbed “Operation Safe City,” ICE officials said they made nearly 500 arrests in “sanctuary cities,” or jurisdictions that limit their cooperation with federal deportation efforts.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration,” said ICE acting Director Tom Homan in a news release. “As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”
The District reportedly has about 70,000 immigrants, and approximately 25,000 are undocumented.
“[The ICE raids] are an unacceptable attempt, motivated by fear and xenophobia, to solve the larger question of immigration in our country without having to do any of the hard work that is required of elected leaders,” Grosso said.
He called the raids an “assault on our communities” and urged any of those arrested, or anyone who knows them, to contact his office at 202-724-8105 for legal help.