U.S. immigration agents arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least six states this week in raids that marked the first large-scale enforcement of President Trump’s Jan. 26 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million people living here illegally, the Washington Post reports. Officials said the raids targeted known criminals, but they also caught immigrants without criminal records, an apparent departure from similar enforcement waves during the Obama administration. Trump substantially broadened the scope of who the Department of Homeland Security can target to include those with minor offenses or no convictions at all.
Trump has pledged to deport as many as 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records. Agents this week raided homes and workplaces in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina and South Carolina, netting hundreds of people. Gillian Christensen of the Department of Homeland Security said they were part of routine immigration enforcement actions. ICE doesn’t use the term “raids,” and prefers to say authorities are conducting “targeted enforcement actions.” Christensen said the raids, which began Monday and ended Friday at noon, found undocumented immigrants from a dozen Latin American countries. Immigration activists also documented raids of unusual intensity during the past two days in Florida, Kansas, Texas and Northern Virginia. That undocumented immigrants with no criminal records could potentially be deported sent a shock through immigrant communities nationwide amid concerns that the U.S. government could start going after law-abiding people. “This is clearly the first wave of attacks under the Trump administration, and we know this isn’t going to be the only one,” said Cristina Jimenez of United We Dream, an immigrant youth organization.