ICE raids result in 128 arrests in California as Trump administration turns to immigration with Election Day nearing

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 128 people during a crackdown on undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles and other "sanctuary cities" in California, officials announced Wednesday.

The series of raids, conducted during the five days leading up to Oct. 2, was dubbed "Operation Rise."

It was the third time in a week the Trump administration rolled out actions to appear tough on immigration, reviving an issue that was at the heart of Trump's successful 2016 campaign, but largely on the back burner in the current one. And it added to charges from Trump critics that DHS and other agencies have become overtly politicized under this president.

Federal officials said 95% of those arrested during Operation Rise had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges including murders, sexual assaults and drug trafficking.

"These are not everyday people," Chad Wolf, acting director of the Department of Homeland Security, said at a news conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C. "These are hardened criminals who threaten American communities and put American lives at risk.

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"Operation Rise is proof positive that we will never back down from enforcing the rule of law, with or without the cooperation of local political leaders," Wolf said.

Last month, ICE marked similar operations in Los Angeles, Chicago and Charlotte, North Carolina, with little fanfare - just news releases on its website.

Federal officials said more raids will take place if cities do not comply with ICE requests. They made a point of criticizing so-called "sanctuary" policies in California.

In Los Angeles County, the Sheriff's Department has a policy of not transferring an inmate to ICE custody without a warrant.

DHS, which was created to improve America's resistance to external threats following the Sept. 11 attacks, has been a tool of key Trump administration policies from the start - enforcing stricter immigration policies, building the border wall and, most notoriously, separating families apprehended trying to enter the United States.

Its political role has increased in recent months, with the decision to deploy DHS tactical agents to Portland, Oregon, to confront protesters outside the federal courthouse without the consent of local authorities as part of Trump's "law and order" campaign theme.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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