Federal agents in Southern California over the last two weeks have arrested more than 1,300 immigrants, most of whom either have criminal records or have failed to abide by deportation orders, reports the Los Angeles Times. It is part of an intensifying, controversial effort across the nation to remove such violators. Immigration and Customs Enforcement called the sweep the largest of its kind in the naton. Nearly 600 of those arrested at homes, workplaces, and in jails have already been deported. “Where these laws may not have been enforced in the past, that has changed,” said Jim Hayes, Los Angeles field office director for ICE.
The enforcement is the latest example of the how some local agencies are cooperating with federal authorities to ensure that criminals are identified and deported, rather than simply released from jail. In many cities, there has been a rising backlash to special treatment of illegal immigrants, including in Los Angeles, where officers have long interpreted the department’s Special Order 40 as prohibiting them from asking the immigration status of suspects in most routine cases. Anti-illegal immigrant groups are suing to overturn the order. The federal arrests signal a change in how ICE deals with absconders and violators. In the past, most immigrants simply ignored their deportation orders, knowing there was little chance of arrest.