ICE protesters block 101 Freeway onramp in downtown LA

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Protesters blocked an entrance to the 101 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles Thursday night following a demonstration against what they said were stepped-up immigration raids across Southern California.

The group held a vigil at the downtown office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Alameda Street. After the event, about 100-150 people moved to the area of Aliso and Los Angeles streets and were blocking the entrance to the southbound 101.

Police were present but did not appear to make any efforts to move the protesters. There were no indications of violence or arrests at the event.

Immigrant rights group CHIRLA (Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles) said it was flooded with phone calls and emails reporting that people were being picked up.

"A lot of panicked families, a lot of just shivers of fear," said California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles). He told Eyewitness News that 134 people were detained during the sweep.

He called the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to find out who is being held but did not get much information.

"There are reports that ICE today executed raids across Southern California. I have asked federal officials to disclose how many children, men, and women they have detained; what the processing time will be; what the rationale is for their detention; and I asked that everyone be offered access to an attorney," de Leon said.

De Leon said dividing children form their mothers is "very un-American."

"It is now clear the Trump Administration is not concerned with public safety, they are only focused on ripping hard-working men, women, and children from their families and communities. Mass deportations will not make us safer, instead they will simply undermine our state's economy," he said.

The ACLU of Southern California said it had also heard reports of stepped-up immigration raids.

ICE said any raids conducted recently were "routine" and "ongoing" - in other words, not related to national political events.

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officers conduct enforcement actions every day around the country and here in Southern California as part of the agency's ongoing efforts to uphold public safety and border security. Our operations are targeted and lead driven, prioritizing individuals who pose a risk to our communities," the agency said.

"Examples would include known street gang members, child sex offenders, and deportable foreign nationals with significant drug trafficking convictions To that end, ICE's routine immigration enforcement actions are ongoing and we make arrests every day."
Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.