Immigration officials spotted in Newhall Wednesday sparked fears of round ups being carried out against undocumented residents – claims officials say are groundless.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and their marked vehicles caused alarm for some Wednesday morning when officers were seen on Lyons Avenue between the Old Town Newhall Library on Main Street and Orchard Village Road.
“My friend was so worried,” said one woman who contacted The Signal Wednesday. “Her concern was for people she knows who may be detained.
“Given the situation with the federal government, people’s senses are definitely heightened,” she said, referring to President Donald Trump’s promise to crackdown on illegal immigrants.
Lori K. Haley, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, called such fears groundless.
“We are not doing random raids or setting up checkpoints,” she told The Signal Wednesday. “These are rumors and I don’t know where they’re coming from.
“We are a law enforcement agency and we are out there every day carrying out targeted arrests,” she said, noting that the “heightened concerns” witnessed in Newhall are becoming commonplace across the state.
“You’re not alone,” Haley told The Signal. “We’re getting calls about this sort of thing from across the state.
“It is the times we live in,” she said. “I hate to see people unnecessarily frightened.”
The ongoing work of the ICE and Homeland Security officers has become flashpoint given the current political framework focusing on immigration.
“We’ve been swamped in recent weeks with requests from the media seeking to confirm rumored ICE enforcement activities throughout California,” Haley said. “Many of which are simply rumors.
“While the officers and special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s two enforcement components – Enforcement and Removal Operations and Homeland Security Investigation – make criminal and administrative arrests every day in the course of carrying out their mission to uphold public safety, those arrests are targeted,” she said.
“The agency doesn’t engage in indiscriminate sweeps or raids; nor do we operate checkpoints.”
A push back to Trump policies regarding immigration has galvanized many to take action in the Santa Clarita Valley since the president’s inauguration.
Trump’s election and policies continue to roil thousands to protests nationwide, and the response to those policies in the SCV is no exception.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt