In summary

Federal authorities arrested nearly 500 people in California and across the country this week in “sanctuary cities” that have opted to break ties with federal immigration enforcers.

Federal authorities have arrested nearly 500 people in California and across the country this week in a sweep of “sanctuary cities” that have opted to break ties with federal immigration enforcers.

In the Golden State, Los Angeles saw the most arrests with 167 people picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The agency said it focused on individuals with criminal records, and that 317 of those taken into custody had prior criminal convictions.

Sanctuary cities are those that have put rules in place restricting local law enforcement from cooperating with the federal agency. The California Legislature also this month passed a statewide sanctuary measure, which is awaiting a final decision by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The agency has conducted several raids like this in recent years, but the aim of what the agency dubbed “Operation Safe City” appeared to be the targeting of specific areas seen to defy President Trump’s push for a crackdown on illegal immigration.

“Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration,” ICE Acting Director Tom Homan said in a statement. “As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it a point to hold accountable cities he says are blocking immigration enforcement efforts, also insisting the federal government will attempt to disqualify such jurisdictions from receiving certain federal funds. Several cities have sued, contending that withholding federal funds from sanctuary cities would be unconstitutional, and some federal judges have agreed.

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Elizabeth Aguilera

Elizabeth Aguilera is an award-winning multimedia journalist who covers health and social services for CalMatters. She joined CalMatters in 2016 from Southern California Public Radio/KPCC 89.3 where she...