U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement led a nationwide dragnet targeting people in the country illegally who have prior criminal convictions, sweeping up more than 2,000 people from 94 countries.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, ICE director Sarah R. Saldaña said, “This national operation exemplifies ICE’s ongoing commitment to prioritizing convicted criminals and public safety threats for apprehension and removal. By taking these individuals off our streets and removing them from the country, we are making our communities safer for everyone.”
The operation, nicknamed “Cross Check,” comes at a time when President Obama has been accused of ignoring enforcement of immigration laws by prominent Republicans.
The executive actions he announced last November extending deportation relief to some 5 million people in the country illegally have been temporarily blocked by a Texas District Court Judge.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. deported 316,000 people in fiscal year 2014, the lowest figure since Obama became president, and, of those, only 102,000 were “interior removals”—as opposed to people turned back at the border—a drop of 23 percent from the year before.
More people have been deported under Obama than during the tenure of any other U.S. president. Before he announced his executive actions, immigration activists had taken to calling him the "deporter in chief."
According to the agency, of the 2,059 people taken into custody over the five days of Cross Check, more than 1,000 have been convicted of multiple crimes, more than 1,000 were convicted of felony crimes—among them manslaughter, child pornography, kidnapping and rape—476 entered the U.S. illegally again after having been deported and 58 are gang members.
The overwhelming majority of the 912 who were picked up with only misdemeanor priors were convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
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