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ICE meeting cancellation draws ire

WASHINGTON – Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, frustrated by the cancellation of a planned meeting with the chief of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on Tuesday, demanded more details about stepped-up deportation efforts the agency has initiated in recent days.

ICE reported Monday that officers in the Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York City regions arrested more than 680 people “who pose a threat to public safety, border security or the integrity of our nation’s immigration system.”

The enhanced deportations – at least so far – have not been carried out in New Mexico.

Although ICE officials have said those arrested and deported have posed safety threats, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., said ICE acting Director Thomas Homan told her Monday during a phone call that the deportations reflected a “broader effort” than just targeting felons or violent criminals.

“He confirmed … that unlike other actions in the past that this is a broader effort that can be aimed at anyone that has a criminal record or is suspected of criminal activity, which meets the language, of course, of broader discretion to Homeland Security, and I’m very concerned about that because that’s a shift,” said Lujan Grisham, chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Lujan Grisham said she is requesting specific information about whom ICE is deporting, adding that she was “more than disappointed” Tuesday’s meeting was canceled.

“The request to have the meetings was to get real information – data – about who was apprehended, who were the targets, where and to confirm that information with our constituents … to make sure we’re following the law and people are getting due process,” she said.

Gillian M. Christensen, a spokeswoman for ICE in Washington, told the Journal that Tuesday’s meeting was delayed until Thursday to allow for bipartisan participation after the initial list of just six Democrats expected to participate “grew substantially.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Steve Pearce, a New Mexico Republican who represents the state’s border with Mexico, said the recent raids “have been declared by Department of Homeland Security Secretary (John) Kelly as based on public safety threats of people who are not legally eligible to be in our country based on the laws we have.”