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Immigration sweeps target criminals as local officials release detainees

FILE: Immigration officials arrested more than 100 men and women this week in Southern California in an ongoing effort to deport those with criminal records.
FILE: Immigration officials arrested more than 100 men and women this week in Southern California in an ongoing effort to deport those with criminal records.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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U.S. immigration officials have stepped up their efforts to track down people who are released from jails as state and local officials responding to new laws and policies have grown less willing to hold immigrants for deportation.

Federal agents arrested 112 people this week in Southern California in the latest sweeps targeting immigrants with criminal records, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

“We’ve sort of had to change our tactics. So now we are going to track them down in other ways,” said Dave Marin, ICE deputy field office director in Los Angeles.

Authorities took 100 men and 12 women into custody. About 75 percent of the arrestees are unauthorized immigrants. Sixty-two had felony convictions and others had multiple misdemeanors. 

The sweeps took place in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and ended late Wednesday. 

Agents said among those arrested are a 64-year-old man from Mexico convicted in 1996 of the attempted murder of a police officer and a 46-year-old man from Tonga with a prior conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.

Besides those with felony records, others arrested had "significant or multiple misdemeanors," according to an agency statement. One person who had been previously deported will be prosecuted.

ICE agents said others will be processed for deportation to 11 different countries in Latin America, Asia and Europe.

The largest number of arrestees came from Mexico (89), but they also arrived from El Salvador (7), Guatemala (5), Belize (2), Honduras (2), Vietnam (2), Egypt (1), Philippines (1), Tonga (1), the United Kingdom (1), and Azerbaijan (1).

The sweep comes after another large crackdown in February and March, when 185 gang members and others associated with what authorities described as transnational criminal activity in Southern California were arrested.

All of the targets in the latest operation met the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement priorities. These include people who pose threats to national security, criminal street gang members, and convicted felons. They are followed in priority by those with convictions for three or more misdemeanors or convictions for significant misdemeanors, including driving while under the influence.