ICE Will Have an Increased Presence in Inglewood Due to the Big Game and Social Media Is on High Alert
Social media users are ringing the alarms due to the likelihood of increased ICE presence in Los Angeles for the upcoming Super Bowl game being held at SoFi stadium in Inglewood.
While the prestige and exposure of hosting the Big Game had many Angelenos excited, the excitement quickly died down in the wake of a recent press conference when Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced an influx of increased law enforcement presence in Los Angeles leading up to the game.
According to the DHS, a myriad of Federal agencies will be in Los Angeles, including the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Secret Service and an increased amount of LAPD officers.
One of the agencies Mayorkas mentioned stood out more than the others: Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE].
“Homeland security investigations in ICE make sure not only that people enjoy this event, but they also ensure the integrity of the marketplace,” Mayorkas said during a press conference. “We combat the trafficking in stolen and counterfeit merchandise. It is a multi-million dollar under the table industry that we’re very focused on cracking down on.”
In a follow-up press release, the DHS wrote: “Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has deployed a task force to identify and combat human trafficking, as well as intellectual property enforcement teams to the City of Inglewood.”
On social media, critics pointed out how unusual it was that the federal government was recruiting ICE to crack down on vendors selling potentially bootlegged merchandise.
Users are questioning the real motives of the DHS sending ICE to LA during such a massive sporting event, while many immigrants will likely be working as street vendors.
“LAPD is working with ICE through next week on a ‘task force for counterfeit goods and trafficking’ on public transport across LA. ICE/CBP will use the super bowl as an excuse to detain and deport people on public transport in LA!!” wrote one Twitter user.
“As someone who works on legislation to combat #HumanTrafficking, to support trafficked survivors… I don’t buy the lies from ICE and CBP as to why they have a heavy presence at the #SuperBowl,” wrote Chicano policy advocate Christopher Sanchez on Twitter.
Sanchez continued: “1) Every law enforcement agency has the capabilities to combat human trafficking and there are multiple other federal agencies who combat human trafficking who are not focused on immigration enforcement. 2) ICE and CBP are enforcement agencies. If a survivor of trafficking is undocumented or a non-citizen they should be directed to resources and social services including USCIS for immigration relief, something that ICE nor CBP has the authority to provide.”
The tension increased when social media users began posting pictures of ICE vehicles patrolling Inglewood around SoFi stadium.
Now, organizations like the Community Power Collective are asking for volunteers to act as observers at SoFi stadium in order to help protect immigrants and the street vending community.
“We need folks who are willing to be onsite and become observers,” they wrote as a call-to-action on their Instagram stories. “Tag us, record/narrate any activity going on if ICE is active.”