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Facing criticism, ICE will reduce enforcement actions amid coronavirus pandemic

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LOS ANGELES — Facing criticism from across the country for continued enforcement actions amid the coronavirus pandemic, ICE said Wednesday that it would shift its focus to “public safety risks.”

The agency will also focus on those subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds. For those who don’t fall into those categories, Immigration and Customs Enforcement “will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate.”

“To ensure the welfare and safety of the general public as well as officers and agents in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response … (ICE) will temporarily adjust its enforcement posture,” the agency said in a statement. “ICE’s highest priorities are to promote life-saving and public safety activities.”

Mandatory detention is required for those with certain criminal convictions, according to ICE. They are not entitled to bond hearings and must remain in detention while removal proceedings are pending.

With safety measures taken across the state to protect against coronavirus, immigrant advocates have criticized ICE for its continued enforcement operations. More than 45 organizations signed a letter this week calling on the Department of Homeland Security to suspend such actions.

The Los Angeles Times reported on ICE arrests in the Los Angeles area on Monday. In response, Mayor Eric Garcetti said those operations created “unnecessary fear and panic in those very same families we are trying to protect.”

“Additional fear at a moment of extreme fear is the last thing that families need to face,” he said during a media briefing Tuesday.

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(Staff writer Laura J. Nelson contributed to this report.)

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