ICE agents blast LA's 'frustrating' sanctuary policies as they work to nab criminal illegal immigrants

EXCLUSIVE: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are doing their best to get criminal illegal immigrants off the streets in Los Angeles, but say they are hampered by “sanctuary” policies that prevent local police cooperating with them.

Fox News rode along with ICE agents this week in the California city as they set off to arrest those in the country illegally who also have pending criminal charges or criminal convictions. Their first target was a Mexican woman previously convicted of trafficking opioids in Los Angeles. Agents said she was distributing them to minors.

She’s a convicted felon already deported four times, and when ICE agents nabbed her, she has thousands of dollars in cash on her person.

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Soon, agents brought in another felon — a Mexican male with convictions for domestic violence and meth trafficking.

An illegal immigrant is arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Fox News)

ICE Los Angeles Field Office made 3,158 arrests of those with pending or convicted criminal charges in Fiscal Year 23, and removed 2,429 such illegal immigrants. They also arrested nearly 250 gang members.

When ICE believes a removable illegal immigrant has been arrested on criminal charges, it will lodge a detainer — a request that they be notified before the immigrant is released from custody and to keep them in custody until ICE can take custody of them.

But sanctuary jurisdictions generally do not honor detainers, sometimes arguing that enforcement is not their responsibility and that doing so has a chilling effect on relations between immigrants and the community.

“When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission,” ICE’s website warns.

But sanctuary jurisdictions are not always listening.

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ICE agents in Los Angeles are frustrated with sanctuary city policies. (Fox News)

“Due to sanctuary policies, unfortunately, our detainers are not being honored,” an ICE agent in L.A. told Fox. “It is frustrating.”

Asked if they now had any presence at the jail, the agent replied, “No.”

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ICE blames those policies for arresting the third felon of the day, who was convicted of trafficking meth and being a felon in possession of a gun. ICE says he was released after a detainer was ignored.

It’s an area that has also brought liberal cities into friction with the Biden administration, which, via ICE leadership as well as DHS and the White House, has urged cities to cooperate with ICE.

And the agents say that it’s a myth that they’re out there conducting indiscriminate raids.

“The sex offenders, the child molesters, drug traffickers, that misconception that we’re out there indiscriminately conducting raids at checkpoints, that’s just simply far from the truth,” an agent told Fox.

Bill Melugin currently serves as a national correspondent for FOX News Channel based out of the Los Angeles bureau.

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