Protesters hit streets after claims of stepped-up immigration raids

Demonstrators block L.A. freeway ramp on night of February 9, 2017 after reports, denied by U.S. Customs, of some 100 arrests or detentions in immigration raids in several L.A.-area cities

CBS Los Angeles

(LOS ANGELES) -- Protesters blocked an entrance to a freeway in downtown Los Angeles Thursday night following a demonstration against what they said are stepped-up immigration raids across Southern California, reports CBS Los Angeles.

The group held a vigil at the downtown office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. on Alameda Street. After the event, about 100-150 people moved to the freeway entrance.

Police were present, but did not appear to making any efforts to move the protesters. There were no indications of violence or arrests at the event.

ICE told CBS News claims form activists of more than 100 arrests or detentions in several L.A.-area cities are “grossly exaggerated.”

ICE said any raids conducted recently were “routine” and “ongoing” -- in other words, not related to national political events.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation officers conduct enforcement actions every day around the country and here in Southern California as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to uphold public safety and border security. Our operations are targeted and lead driven, prioritizing individuals who pose a risk to our communities,” the agency said.

“Examples would include known street gang members, child sex offenders, and deportable foreign nationals with significant drug trafficking convictions. To that end, ICE’s routine immigration enforcement actions are ongoing and we make arrests every day.”

But state Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, said he had heard reports of additional ICE raids and is seeking more information from federal officials.

“There are reports that ICE today executed raids across Southern California. I have asked federal officials to disclose how many children, men, and women they have detained; what the processing time will be; what the rationale is for their detention; and I asked that everyone be offered access to an attorney,” de Leon said.

“It is now clear the Trump administration is not concerned with public safety, they are only focused on ripping hard-working men, women, and children from their families and communities. Mass deportations will not make us safer; instead they will simply undermine our state’s economy.”

The ACLU of Southern California said it had also heard reports of stepped-up immigration raids.