The U.S. arrested 2,900 illegal immigrant criminals over seven days in the largest nationwide crackdown of its kind, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
All of those taken into custody had prior criminal convictions in the U.S., and at least 1,282 had multiple criminal convictions, ICE said in a statement today. More than 1,600 of those arrested had felony convictions, including manslaughter, attempted murder and kidnapping.
The Obama administration has made it a priority to arrest and deport illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes. The strategy is a departure from immigration policies of Obama’s predecessor as president, George W. Bush, who emphasized raids on businesses suspected of hiring illegal immigrants.
The Obama administration has “come up with a rational set of priorities” for deporting illegal immigrants, the director of ICE, John Morton, said at a Washington news conference. “The best place to start is criminal offenders.”
Suspects were arrested in all 50 states and four U.S. territories, according to the statement.
About 1 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. have been convicted of crimes, Morton said. Of the 390,000 people ICE removes from the country annually, more than half have criminal records, he said.
The operation was the second such nationwide sweep known as “Cross Check.” In June, immigration officials said they arrested more than 2,400 illegal immigrants who had previously been convicted of crimes.