Immigration authorities last week arrested 680 people who were in the U.S. illegally, says Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, reports the Washington Post. Raids in at least a dozen states, which marked the Trump administration’s first large-scale immigration crackdown, set off a wave of panic and protest in immigrant communities over the weekend and prompted questions from immigration advocates as to whether the arrestees posed legitimate threats to public safety. DHS said that about 75 percent of those arrested were “criminal aliens,” including some who had been convicted of crimes such as homicide, sexual assault of a minor and drug trafficking. A DHS official confirmed that “criminal aliens” includes anyone who entered the U.S. illegally or overstayed or violated the terms of a visa. There are an estimated 11 million people who fit that profile.
Officials declined to provide names and locations of those who were detained in the raids, nor would the agency say how many of the 680 people had committed serious crimes. About one-fourth had no prior convictions. Field offices in Los Angeles, San Antonio, Chicago, Atlanta and New York City released 15 examples of people ICE took into custody last week, including a “self-admitted MS-13 gang member” and someone who was wanted for murder and attempted murder in Mexico. Seven had prior convictions for sexual assault or for lewd or indecent acts with a child, and three, including the gang member, had convictions for drug trafficking or distribution. ICE made arrests in New York, California, Illinois, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana and Wisconsin. ICE characterized the raids as routine, but immigrant rights groups said the actions were out of the ordinary and that most of those swept up were not dangerous. They accused the government of sowing fear among the immigrant community.