Immigration officials arrest more than 3,100
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Monday that they had arrested more than 3,100 criminals and others living in the country illegally, the largest such effort in the agency’s history, adding fuel to the national debate over the Obama administration’s stepped-up deportation policies.
The six-day operation — dubbed “Cross Check” — nabbed 3,168 offenders across the nation, including in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia. Of those, 1,477 taken into custody had felony convictions such as murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, kidnapping, child abuse, assault and other offenses.
“This is part of our effort to prioritize our immigration enforcement efforts,” said John Morton, the agency’s director. “As a matter of public safety, we start first and foremost with criminal offenders.”
The wide-ranging sweep, the third in two years, included 131 arrests in Virginia — 20 in the city of Alexandria — 53 in Maryland and 11 in the District of Columbia.
The Obama administration has faced criticism from across the political spectrum for tightening its controls on illegal immigration. The administration has deported about 1 million people in the past three years, some 400,000 yearly, a record-setting pace.
Advocates for the nation’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants expressed concern about Monday’s raids, saying that while they supported the premise of targeting criminal aliens, large roundups tend to sweep in less serious offenders who may have committed only minor violations.