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Massive immigration sweep expected in Northern California

ICE officers are reportedly planning a major raid sometime over the next several weeks in San Francisco and other Northern California cities. Targets for the roundup include people who have received final deportation orders and undocumented immigrants with criminal histories. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A massive U.S. immigration sweep is expected to net more than 1,500 arrests sometime over the next several weeks in San Francisco and other Northern California cities, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

The plan is a move against so-called sanctuary cities and reinforces President Donald Trump's plan to tighten immigration.

Targets for the roundup include people who have received final deportation orders and undocumented immigrants with criminal histories, according to the Chronicle. More people could be arrested if officers find other undocumented immigrants while they are carrying out the operation.

Plans call for immigration officers to be flown in from other areas of the nation to assist in the operation, according to the Chronicle. The sweep could take more than one day. Officers are also expected to visit work sites suspected of illegally employing undocumented immigrants, according to the Chronicle.

The Chronicle cited an unnamed source “familiar with the operation” who said the campaign is designed to serve as an example for enforcing immigration policy in sanctuary cities. The source asked to not be named because the plan is not yet public, the report stated.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials did not confirm the plans.

If carried out, the sweep would be the largest in the region since Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed legislation in October for a statewide sanctuary law, the report stated. The law limits the circumstances in which jails can turn over undocumented inmates to the federal government. Also, local police officers are barred from working with federal agents on immigration task forces.

Supporters of sanctuary cities say they allow undocumented immigrants to work with local police and receive education, health care, and other public services "without worrying they will expose themselves to possible deportation,” the Chronicle reported.

But Trump has expressed frustration with sanctuary cities, saying they undermine his efforts to restrict immigration. Also, acting ICE Director Thomas Homan criticized Brown for the law and said his agency is ready to take action, the report stated.

Earlier this month, Homan told Fox News that “California better hold on tight,” adding that ICE will clean up cities if local politicians “don’t want to protect their communities."

Homan previously said the federal government will not allow the state to become a safe haven for illegal immigrants, the Chronicle reported.

What are people saying?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was outraged after hearing about the plan Tuesday, according to the Chronicle. Feinstein said immigrants “must not be targeted in raids solely because they are Californians.”

She said the operation only shows “the administration is carrying out its enforcement actions to make a political point and not based on the security of the country.”

Pratheepan Gulasekaram, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and an immigration expert, told the Chronicle that the government's announcement of the sweep is similar to tactics employed by the George W. Bush administration.

“This is a bluff since California continues to resist,” he said. “This is more show than anything else. They want to make it seem like they are carrying through on this threat. ... I highly doubt that ICE, in the way that it is currently funded, has the ability and resources to maintain something like this on a sustained basis.”

Gulasekaram told the Chronicle that the raid would hurt people but have little impact on public safety issues.

In recent years, ICE has not had major immigration sweeps in cities such as San Francisco and Oakland, the Chronicle reported.

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