Immigration agents arrested more than 240 people with criminal records during a four-day sting in Southern California, authorities said Monday in a show of force that comes as fewer people are being deported.
Slightly more than half of the 244 people arrested last week had felony convictions and the rest had significant or multiple misdemeanor convictions, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The agency said those numbers underscore an emphasis on deporting immigrants who commit crimes in the United States or pose a public safety threat.
Those who aren’t criminally prosecuted were to be placed in deportation proceedings.
Nearly eight of 10 arrested were from Mexico, with the rest from 20 other countries. Los Angeles County accounted for the largest number of arrests with 99, followed by Orange County at 55, San Bernardino County with 43, Riverside County with 24, Santa Barbara County with 20, and San Luis Obispo County with 3.
The sting, which ended Thursday, comes as the federal government meets resistance from local law enforcement agencies to cooperate on immigration enforcement, a trend that captured widespread attention after a 32-year-old woman was fatally shot in San Francisco by a Mexican man with an extensive criminal and immigration history.
ICE removed 102,224 people from the interior of the country during the 2014 fiscal year – a 24 percent decline from the previous year – and those numbers are expected to drop again in 2015. ICE said its numbers fell last year partly because state and local law enforcement agencies were refusing to hold people when immigration authorities asked.
ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said all 244 arrested last week were arrested in the community, as opposed to being held by local law enforcement at ICE’s request. The agency didn’t offer a detailed account of their criminal records in a press release but said one had been convicted in 2002 of sexual abuse with force and another had been sentenced to prison for child sexual abuse.