LOS ANGELES - The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California filed a request on Tuesday under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking information about the recent immigration raids across Southern California.
The FOIA request, filed with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), was prompted by raids conducted by CBP roving patrols that resulted in the questioning and detentions of hundreds of Latino residents in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles counties. The ACLU-SC has asked the CBP to explain their reasons for conducting the patrols and disclose details about whom the agency questioned, detained, and deported. The CBP has released no information to the public about how or why the raids were conducted except to state that they were based on "intelligence" and that they targeted people based on nationality.
"The information provided by the CBP has been limited at best and contradictory at worst," said Ranjana Natarajan, staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California. "Given the confusion and fear surrounding the CBP's actions it is critical that the community have a clear understanding of what exactly took place. The community has been kept in the dark which has only heightened the sense of anxiety throughout the community."
Businesses, schools and even health clinics experienced a drastic decrease in community participation and commerce.
"There is no question that the raids spread fear and panic throughout the community," said Jim Mangia, director of St. John's Well Child and Family Center in Los Angeles. "People were afraid to go to work, send their children to school and even visit the doctor. Often times people don't realize that these sort of events have a ripple effect throughout the community."
The ACLU/SC's FOIA request asks the CBP to disclose, among other information:
' The total number of persons questioned and detained;
' The number of persons traveling by vehicle who were questioned;
' The total number of persons removed from the U.S., and the countries to which they were removed;
' Any records involving California state and local law enforcement involvement with the raids;
The ACLU of Southern California has set up a call line to gather information on the raids and encourages people who may have been stopped to call 213/977-5218.