Alfredo Nava says he never thought they would come for him. The 62-year-old was working in a Los Angeles area flooring and carpet store when a team of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers showed up to arrest him.
The Mexican national has been deported twice already, and last Monday he was deported a third time. Not only is Nava an illegal immigrant, but he's also a four-time felon, convicted of drunken driving and giving alcohol to a minor.
Nava was one of more than 2,900 people arrested as part of "Operation Cross Check" -- a seven-day enforcement bust across all 50 states and four U.S. territories. The program is ICE's largest criminal alien operation.
"We've been targeting what we consider the worst of the worst, " said David Marin with ICE Enforcement and Removal in Los Angeles.
"We had several attempted murderers, several rapists, a lot of child molesters and, unfortunately, quite a few individuals who were convicted of batteries on their spouse and domestic violence."
Out of an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., ICE says more than 500,000 are fugitive criminals. Last week, ICE agents were on the hunt for those criminal aliens and fugitives convicted or charged with serious crimes.
ICE says all 2,903 of those arrested had prior criminal convictions. Almost half of those were convicted of multiple crimes. They included manslaughter, attempted murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, drug trafficking, child abuse, sexual crimes against minors and aggravated assault. A handful were gang members and more than 150 were convicted sex offenders.
The operation involved more than 1,900 agents and officers. ICE Director John Morton says the results were impressive and important for national security.
"The rate of recidivism in this country is such, if these people are left on the streets, most of them will re-offend within 3 years," said Morton.
Morton claims focusing on criminal aliens makes sense, but some critics argue another message is being sent, that entering America illegally is fine, provided you don't commit a crime. Morton disagrees.
"We can remove about 400,000 people a year. About half of those last year were criminal offenders and half were non-criminal offenders, so the idea that somehow we are not enforcing the law against regular immigration violators, simply isn't true," Morton said.
This is ICE's second year of the Cross Check operation. Prior operations resulted in the arrests of 4,506 convicted criminals, fugitives and aliens who have illegally re-entered the United States after being removed.