ICE Raids in Southern California

While the President’s plan for comprehensive immigration reform calls for (among other things) a proposal that will include regularizing the status of undocumented immigrants currently in the US “without animosity and without amnesty”, it seems like ICE was thinking of something different this weekend.

In the past week, ICE officials knocked on doors throughout Southern California looking for men and women who had ignored voluntary deportation proceedings and criminals who re-entered after being deported for crimes.

Those arrested were from 14 countries, including Mexico, Honduras, Ukraine, India, Japan, Poland, and Trinidad. Of the 761 people arrested, more than 450 have already been deported, Kice said today. LA Times.

I found the LA Times story on the raids interesting and enlightening when it comes to the debate on undocumented immigration. It leads and ends with stories about men in Santa Ana, home to many Mexican immigrants, convicted of DUI and rape. From that story, it would seem as if LA was swarming with undocumented immigrant criminals. While I don’t have much sympathy against violent criminals, I know that the majority of immigrants are not criminals, but saying someone just wanted to stay in the country to work probably won’t seel as many newspapers as talking about the rapist and 6 men in one house.

I talked a bit about the raids with a good friend who is an immigration attorney in South Pasadena. I wanted to find out a little more about what happens once undocumented immigrants are detained.

According to her, those who ignore the voluntary departure orders are harmless. She also said that there are more people who ignore the voluntary departure orders than criminals.

The way I understand it, voluntary departure (V/D) is a sort of relief and undocumented immigrants are lucky if they get it. My friend says that they usually have to pay a bond of about $500 after the judge grants the V/D. Undocumented immigrants are given some time to depart the country after paying the bond. When they arrive in the home country, they need to go to the US embassy there and get proof that they have returned. Those who are denied bond have to stay in detention and it can be several months before the deportation order is finalized. As usual, this all depends on the circumstances and which country the undocumented immigrant is from.

5 thoughts on “ICE Raids in Southern California”

  1. The majority of illegal immigrants may be otherwise law-abiding, but over half the people rounded up in this sweep were ALREADY IN JAIL for non-immigration related offenses.

  2. As far as terms go – the problem with diction in these stories is that there is not a one-term-fits-all solution. Especially if you start from the ground-floor definition of “immigrant.” An immigrant is one who intends to immigrate to America. That is, intends to stay and make a home here, become a citizen or permanent resident. The backbone presumption of ALL immigration law, in fact, is that every single non-American who comes to the border is presumed an immigrant. To get in, you have to overcome that presumption (which is no big thing for most visitors where the Visa Waiver Program applies to their country of origin – think most Western Euro tourists – they don’t need a visa to come to Disneyland, just like you don’t need one to go see Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower).

    Now, a lot of the debate around certain communities – let’s call them out-of-status for now – is laced with opposing views of assimilation. English or no English or just no-Spanish? Become the new culture, plan to go home? Some out-of-status people don’t want to immigrate, they just want to work here and send money home. Many others want to immigrate here.

    I would argue that an illegal alien is one who entered the country without passing through the border, or one who remains past legal documented entry, with no plans on immigrating here (that is remaining/becoming American).

    An illegal or undocumented immigrant is one who intends to stay – intended to stay when he/she entered – and either entered without passing through a port of entry or violated the terms of admission (overstayed a visa, etc).

    I think it’s vital to make these distinctions – regardless of how nuanced they are – because it makes a HUGE difference in how a person should be dealt with. An illegal alien would benefit from a temporary worker program since his/her goal is to work here, not necessarily naturalize.

    An illegal immigrant – anyone out-of-status – would not benefit. Presumably, this is where the “without amnesty” part comes into play. You appease Republicans and border enforcers by saying: look, we aren’t just giving a free pass to permanent residence or citizenship. We’re saying come and go and work without fear of repraisal and we can at least know who is coming or going. But you can’t circumvent the legal immigration process if your intention is to immigrate her.

    The whole of this area of law is complicated, fraught with nuanced linguistic acrobatics, and beyond frustrating.

  3. That’s a big long explanation that doesn’t address the point of my comment. We have all sorts of ways for folks to get into the country by various legal means.

    And all of the folks targeted by these raids have made the choice not to abide by the rules and laws surrounding those means.

    Hence, illegal. Explain to me how that term doesn’t apply to all the people here, well, illegally…

  4. I don’t use the term because I simply don’t like it and find it dehumanizing to call them “illegals.” However, if I wanted to go by the term used in legal discourse, I could just say “illegal alien”.

    The terms are very political. Last spring, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists issued a brief on the history of the terms used ( It can also be as simple as this comic strip

    Thanks for trying to explain this too.

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