D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine is suing the Trump administration to get more information about an operation this summer that resulted in the arrests of more than 130 undocumented immigrants in the Washington region.
Racine submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in July asking for records related to Operation Eagle’s Shield, in which 12 city residents were taken into custody.
Advocates have accused ICE agents of racially profiling and targeting Latino immigrants at random.
The federal immigration agency did not respond to Racine’s request within the time limit prescribed by law, so his office is asking the U.S. District Court in Washington to force officials to produce the records. Unlike criminal arrests, immigration arrests are considered civil matters, and the information is usually not made public.
“We are very concerned that District residents may have been racially profiled and unfairly targeted during ICE raids in the city this summer,” Racine said in a statement. “We are also eager to learn more about the individuals who were detained, including their current status. Our immigrant neighbors should not have to live in fear of law enforcement.”
A spokesperson for ICE said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
The arrests began July 9 as part of a coordinated operation to “identify priority targets for enforcement action.” ICE says many of those taken into custody were violent offenders, sex offenders, gang members and other people who posed threats to public safety.
Of the 132 people arrested, 37 were charged with criminal offenses such as illegal reentry or a firearm violation. The remainder were placed in deportation proceedings.
Community activists in the Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights neighborhoods of Northwest Washington say agents arrived on 16th Street looking for specific people. When they were not found, the advocates say, agents entered apartment buildings and businesses arresting people at random — including a young waiter.
The arrests sparked outcry and protests in the historically Latino neighborhoods. Activists say at least four of the people arrested in the District have been deported. A few others were released to their families pending immigration court hearings.
Despite the District’s status as a sanctuary city, activists say, immigrants continue to be picked up by federal agents at courthouses, where U.S. marshals have jurisdiction.