U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said about half the 2,179 people arrested in the 19-day nationwide raids — dubbed Operation Return to Sender — had criminal records, including convictions for sexual assault of a minor, assault with a deadly weapon and kidnapping.
While criminals were targeted, agents also asked neighbors and curious onlookers about their immigration status and, if they were in the country illegally, they got hauled away for deportation, too.
San Diego's Linda Vista is a hardscrabble neighborhood of two-story homes favored by Mexican, Filipino and Vietnamese immigrants. As in other cities, the fugitive task force arrived in unmarked vehicles and agents were dressed like civilians. Mack said agents wore something to identify them as law enforcement, perhaps an agency insignia on a shirt or a bulletproof vest marked POLICE.
Day laborer Fredy Calleja said his uncle was arrested about two weeks ago while watering plants outside his home. An agent asked him about someone suspected of selling drugs in the area. When the uncle said he didn't know the drug dealer, the agent asked if he was in the country illegally and arrested him when he said he was.
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Growing up, there was always joking involving La Migra, short for Border Patrol, coming after you, or one of your misbehaving primos. I guess the joke is on all of us now as the process for citizenship identification is becoming more arbitrary and covert.
Have you ever been asked if you were a U.S. citizen (aside from at a port of entry)? I have, numerous times. Should I be offended, or is this just one of one those things the barrios of the southwest will have to deal with all in the name of The Rule of Law™?
The answer is important. There is an abundance of unmarked vehicles available for the next Operation I-Can't-Believe-They-Named-It-That-Offensively.