The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announced detentions nationwide of nearly 3,000 foreign nationals with criminal convictions in the largest operation of its kind since the agency was created in 2003, reports the Miami Herald. It is the first time ICE carried out a large operation nationwide in which all those arrested have criminal convictions. The operation was aimed at convincing immigrant communities and activists that policy has changed — and that from now on priority will be given to detaining and deporting only criminals and not undocumented immigrants without criminal records.
Last month, high-ranking Obama administration officials promised that undocumented immigrants discovered by local police or ICE agents would be considered “low-priority” cases and would not necessarily be deported, although they could be detained. The officials said three categories of foreign nationals are now subject to deportation: those who have criminal records, undocumented immigrants arrested upon crossing the border, and those who have been previously deported and have returned illegally. ICE said that more than 1,000 of the 2,901 detained in raids yesterday are highly dangerous criminals while 42 others are gang members and 151 have been convicted of sexual crimes. The operation, called Cross Check, involved more than 1,900 ICE agents, as well as officers from state and city police agencies in all 50 states.