Immigration has been a prominent issue in the 2020 elections in California and across the country. In the debates over the future of the country, the national approach to both documented and undocumented immigration has become a central part of the discussion. However, amid medical and economic concerns, changes to the Supreme Court and election validity issues, some experts say that the issue has faded from the headlines. However, there have been some concerns that immigration enforcement targeting undocumented people may ramp up in the period surrounding Election Day.
ICE announces increased enforcement
In early 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement suspended or rolled back some of its activities due to widespread medical concerns. However, ICE has announced that it plans to step up its activities to arrest and detain undocumented immigrants. Under the name Operation Rise, the agency announced 128 arrests in California, including 24 in San Diego County. Many of these arrests have targeted people with prior or pending criminal charges involving a range of issues, despite a state law prohibiting police agencies from notifying ICE when people convicted of certain crimes are scheduled for release. For 800 serious crimes, notification is permitted under California law.
Targeted immigrants may have minor or no criminal record
However, in most cases, these arrests have not taken place when people leave prison or police custody. Instead, they have taken place in public or at immigrants’ homes, raising widespread concern in immigrant communities. Research has indicated that many immigrants arrested by ICE do not have criminal convictions outside of immigration violations or only minor criminal records.
Immigrants in California may be concerned that their lives and futures hang in the balance amid a political debate surrounding the elections, even when state laws are in place to provide some protection. An immigration lawyer may provide advice and guidance to help immigrants protect their rights.