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ICE ramps up efforts targeting undocumented immigrants in so-called sanctuary cities

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By: Michelle Macaluso, Sinclair Broadcast Group

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - President Donald Trump's administration is vowing a crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities.

The nation's top immigration enforcement official says his agency is ramping up efforts to target criminal undocumented immigrants in cities and states that don't cooperate with federal immigration official law.

The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said it's his job to enforce laws.

The battle between the Trump administration and sanctuary cities is heating up after California recently became a sanctuary state.

"So, why did I have to send more agents to California, because I had to. Because I got to do my job and they just made it a lot harder to do my job," Thomas Homan, acting director of ICE said.

Homan claims the lack of cooperation from sanctuary cities hurts his agency's efforts to go after criminal undocumented immigrants.

"Their risk has been quadrupled. Now, you have to arrest this bad guy in public, when you could have arrested him in the safety and security of a county jail," Homan said.

That's because the state of California does not honor detainer requests.

A detainer request is when the federal government asks local law enforcement to hold a person for an extra 48 hours after they would normally be allowed to leave ---so ice has time to pick them up for removal.

Homan argues criminal suspects actually puts immigrant communities at greater risk of being arrested by ice.

"When I go out to the community looking for them, go to a home or place of business, Chances are I'm going to find other illegal aliens that weren't even on our radar," Homan said.

Immigration advocacy groups argue ice is indiscriminately targeting the lowest hanging fruit-- immigrants who do not have significant criminal backgrounds.

"In cases where individuals come to traffic court and their cases are dropped and wait for them outside courthouses to detain them," George Escobar, senior director of services at CASA said.

But according to ICE, out of the more than 81 thousand removals stemming from ice arrests last fiscal year, about 83 percent had criminal convictions.

"Nine out of every 10 people we arrested had a criminal history. People say we are out doing indiscriminate arrests; we are doing raids we are doing sweeps of neighborhoods. Untrue," Homan said

Under President Trump any undocumented immigrant is now a priority for removal. Homan says if Americans disagree with this policy -- they should ask Congress to rewrite immigration laws.

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