'Racists out!' Demonstrators block LA street to protest immigration raids

Word of the raids quickly circulated among immigrants, activists and on social media, creating such widespread panic in immigrant communities that a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said the department had made a decision to take the unprecedented step of confirming some details of the raids while the raids were ongoing. ICE does not use the term raids.

California State Senate leader Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, said he is asking ICE to provide details about the number of people detained, as well as the agency's rationale for their arrest.

Garcia de Rayos was caught up in Trump's executive order that prioritized deportations of unauthorized immigrants with a criminal background.

In downtown L.A., a 5 p.m. vigil in front of the Alameda Detention Center morphed into a protest as attendees, some carrying signs and holding candles, chanted "Let them out!" and marched back and forth in front of driveways of the detention center - apparently to block cars from coming out.

Some activists in Los Angeles and Austin suggested that the raids might be retaliation for those cities' so-called "sanctuary city" policies. Some callers reported being picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at their homes. "They're going to a target-rich environment". The woman, who only identified herself as Marlene, claimed immigration officials were searching for someone else when they arrested her father, who does not have a criminal record.

State Sen. Tony Mendoza, who represents portions of Los Angeles and Orange counties, issued a news release stating that it was important for Immigration and Customs Enforcement "to publicly address the nature of these raids" that he said took place in Santa Paula, Downey, Van Nuys and San Bernardino. They said some had been deported immediately.

Navarrete said the man has three children who are US citizens.

"We can not understate the level of panic and terror that is running through many immigrant communities", said Walter Barrientos of Make the Road in New York City.

"Our families, other people's families, our neighbors are scared", protester Nancy Zuniga said.

"We need urgent clarification from ICE on how many people were detained, if any have serious medical conditions, if they have had access to adequate legal counsel or if local law enforcement participated in these raids", Mendoza said. The organization's hotline, he said, had been overwhelmed with calls. Similar efforts have been happening nationwide: Earlier this week, for example, public school educators in Austin, Texas, handed out flyers to students in English and Spanish about what to do in an encounter with immigration officials.

  • Rogelio Becker