Immigration authorities arrested more than 2,100 illegals in a three-week nationwide sweep that ended Tuesday. About one-third of the arrests were made in California, including 400 in San Diego, reports the Los Angeles Times. Sex offenders and gang members were priorities for the sweep, according to a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The arrestees included 367 gang members nationwide and 36 sex offenders in Orange County, Calif., alone.
Most of those arrested had served time in county jails but were released rather than deported. The number of illegal immigrants in county jails, particularly the Los Angles area, is so large that even identifying them can be a problem, officials said. Agents used databases such as registered sex offender lists and worked with local law enforcement agencies to identify people who should have been held for deportation after serving jail terms. Officials estimated the nation’s jails and prisons book about 630,000 illegal immigrants on criminal charges each year, but many are released back into U.S. society.