Roybal-Allard slams Republican health plan

LOS ANGELES — Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard didn’t pull any punches when it came to her thoughts on her Republican colleagues replacing the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act May 4.

“I ask for divine forgiveness for the shameful vote the House of Representatives has taken to eradicate health care coverage for so many vulnerable Americans,” Roybal-Allard said. “I strongly opposed this monstrous bill.”

Republican leaders insisted that the legislation, which narrowly passed in the House of Representatives, will provide options for people with pre-existing conditions. White House officials said that under the bill, nobody can be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, with $120 billion in funding earmarked for states to cover the costs for people with such conditions.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said earlier last week the American Health Care Act is a bill “that gives [Americans] the care that they need, that allows them to go see a doctor, that covers pre-existing conditions and does so in a way that’s not going to be out of range and unaffordable for most Americans.”

But Democrats like Roybal-Allard blasted such claims, insisting that millions of people with pre-existing conditions will either lose coverage or be forced to pay unaffordable premiums.

“The Republicans’ American Health Care Act is not an attempt to fix the ACA, nor is it an effort to offer a comparable replacement plan,” Roybal-Allard said. “The bill we voted on … is simply a response to campaign promises to repeal Obamacare, and if enacted, it will hurt all Americans in all communities at some point in their lives.

“Trumpcare will embezzle health care from 24 million hard-working Americans, with no replacement plan to expand coverage to any currently uninsured individuals,” said the Democrat who represents much of Southeast Los Angeles County.

County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who served in Congress until her election to the Board of Supervisors last November, also was critical of the legislation.

“This bill represents little more than a rushed and ill-conceived attempt to score a short-term political victory,” Hahn said. “By nearly every measurement this bill would hurt — not help — American’s access to health care. I urge Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris to stand firm against this bill and protect the progress we have made under the Affordable Care Act.

In a celebratory news conference at the White House, President Donald Trump did not specifically address the issue of pre-existing conditions, but said that under the pending legislation, which now moves to the U.S. Senate, “premiums will be coming down. Yes, deductibles will be coming down.”

“Right now, the insurance companies are fleeing,” he said. “It’s been a catastrophe. And this is a great plan. I actually think it will get even better.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also criticized the Republicans’ plan.

“Health care is a fundamental right for all, not a privilege for the wealthy few,” Garcetti said. “The bill pushed through by House Republicans would put life-saving care out of reach for millions who desperately need it.

“No one should be allowed to die because they can’t afford to live, and this legislation would reintroduce that nightmare into the lives of families across America.”

 

Homeland security secretary defends immigration operations

LOS ANGELES — U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly defended recent “targeted enforcement operations” by federal authorities in areas including Los Angeles that triggered mass-deportation fears in some immigrant communities, saying Feb. 13 the raids were aimed at criminals and people who violated immigration laws.

Officials with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), meanwhile, released more detailed information about the 161 people who were detained in the weeklong Southern California operation. According to ICE, 95 people were arrested in Los Angeles County, 35 in Orange County, 13 in San Bernardino County, seven in Riverside County, six in Ventura County and five in Santa Barbara County.

The city of Los Angeles saw the most arrests, with 28, followed by Santa Ana with 16, Van Nuys with nine and Compton with six. The others were scattered around the Southland, with most cities seeing between one and four people arrested.

Similar operations were conducted across the country, with more than 680 people arrested, according to federal authorities.

“These operations targeted public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges,” Kelly said.

He said about 75 percent of the people arrested had been “convicted of crimes including, but not limited to, homicide, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault of a minor, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, indecent liberties with a minor, drug trafficking, battery, assault, DUI and weapons charges.”

Kelly also stressed that ICE conducts such operations “regularly and has for many years.”

He noted, however, that President Donald Trump “has been clear in affirming the critical mission of [the Department of Homeland Security] in protecting the nation and directed our department to focus on removing illegal aliens who have violated our immigration laws, with a specific focus on those who pose a threat to public safety, have been charged with criminal offenses, have committed immigration violations or have been deported and re-entered our country illegally.”

Southland immigration activists responded angrily to news of last week’s raids, saying they feared the operations were the first step in Trump’s vow to carry out mass deportations of people living in the country illegally.

Officials with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles created a toll-free hotline — (888) 624-4752 — for affected immigrants to call for assistance and obtain access to attorneys. The group also began offering hourly training sessions to inform illegal immigrants about their legal rights.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Commerce, said she was “outraged” at news of the recent raids and suggested that some people who were targeted had no violent or criminal history.

“I am working with my constituents and the immigrant community to ensure they know their rights,” she said. “As this process moves forward, I will also ensure my constituents know what the next steps are, where applicable.”

ICE officials said that of the people arrested during the Southern California raids, 42 had domestic violence convictions, 26 were convicted of drug offenses, 23 for assault and 17 for sex crimes. Other convictions among the arrestees included burglary, weapons violations, battery, identity theft and cruelty toward a child.

The bulk of those arrested were from Mexico, while others hailed from countries including El Salvador, Guatemala, China, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Honduras, Belize, Philippines, Australia, Brazil, Israel and South Korea.

 

Immigration authorities arrest 160 during week-long raids

LOS ANGELES — Federal immigration authorities confirmed Friday they arrested about 160 foreign nationals in a series of Southland raids carried out over the past week targeting “criminal aliens” and others in the country illegally, but activists and some elected officials criticized the actions and offered support to affected immigrants.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the raids were carried out in six Southern California counties beginning Feb. 6 and ending around noon Friday. The operations targeted “at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and immigration fugitives.”

ICE officials said about 150 of the people arrested had criminal histories, while five others had “final orders of removal or had been previously deported.” They noted that many of those arrested had prior felony convictions for violent offenses including sex crimes, weapons charges and assault, and some will be referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution for re-entering the country illegally.

Details were not provided on the remaining people arrested, but ICE noted that during some raids, officers “frequently encounter additional suspects who may be in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws. Those persons will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and, when appropriate, arrested by ICE.”

The raids prompted an outcry from local immigrant-rights activists, who suggested the actions were a result of a stepped-up enforcement effort under President Donald Trump’s administration, which has vowed to crack down on illegal immigrations and people living in the United States without authorization.

Officials with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles created a toll-free hotline — (888) 624-4752 — for affected immigrants to call for assistance and obtain access to attorneys. The group also began offering hourly training sessions to inform illegal immigrants about their legal rights.

A woman with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles conducts a training session to inform illegal immigrants about their legal rights Friday after 160 people were arrested in a week-long series of immigration raids in Southern California. (Courtesy photo)
A woman with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles conducts a training session to inform illegal immigrants about their legal rights Friday after 160 people were arrested in a week-long series of immigration raids in Southern California. (Courtesy photo)

One woman, Marlene Mosqueda, told reporters Friday morning her father was taken away Thursday by authorities who weren’t wearing clothing identifying them as ICE officers, and he was deported.

“They took my parents away,” she said. “They took my family away.”

ICE officials insisted, however, that while the raids represented an enforcement “surge,” they were “no different than the routing, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis.”

“The rash of recent reports about purported ICE checkpoints and random sweeps are false, dangerous and irresponsible,” ICE officials said in a statement. “These reports create panic and put communities and law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger. Individuals who falsely report such activities are doing a disservice to those they claim to support.”

But some elected officials criticized the immigration actions.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said he spoke to the deputy director of ICE’s Los Angeles field office.

“I told [him] that I will do everything in my power — working alongside our city attorney, the LAPD, immigrants’ rights advocates, congressional delegation and outside lawyers — to make sure that the legal rights of all Angelenos are respected and upheld at every stage of the enforcement process.”

“President Trump has already ignited widespread fear and confusion in our immigrant communities with his executive order and divisive campaign rhetoric,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “If the reports are accurate, these raids only add to the anxiety about what’s to come from this administration.”

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Commerce, said she was “outraged” at news of the recent raids and suggested that some people who were targeted had no violent or criminal history.

“I am working with my constituents and the immigrant community to ensure they know their rights,” she said. “As this process moves forward, I will also ensure my constituents know what the next steps are, where applicable.”

State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, also weighed in.

“I am sickened by the recent ICE raids,” she said. “It is unacceptable for families to be torn apart in this fear-generating manner. Inducing trauma is not good for any individual and on a larger scale makes society ill.

“This is not the America of the civil rights movement which taught us that everyone has a place at the table and in America.”

ICE officials said the five-day operation included:

• The Huntington Park arrest of a Salvadoran national gang member wanted in his home country for aggravated extortion.

• The Los Angeles arrest of a Brazilian national wanted in Brazil for cocaine trafficking.

• And the West Hollywood arrest of an Australian national previously convicted of lewd acts with a child.