Federal immigration authorities arrested hundreds of unauthorized immigrants across the country this week — including about 30 in the Atlanta area — as part what they are calling “targeted enforcement operations.”
In the government’s Atlanta area of operations — which includes Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina — 192 people were apprehended this week, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Nearly 100 of them were arrested in Georgia alone.
ICE officials said a majority of them have criminal convictions, though they could not immediately identify them or provide additional details about their cases. They also called their figures “preliminary,” stressing they were still tallying the figures.
ICE also confirmed similar operations were carried out in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City this week.
Last month, President Donald Trump quickly followed up on his signature campaign promises and signed executive orders to crack down on illegal immigration. ICE officials said this week’s enforcement actions were routine and were planned before Trump signed his decrees.
“Every day, as part of routine targeted enforcement operations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement fugitive operations teams arrest criminal aliens and other individuals who are in violation of our nation’s immigration laws,” ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said in a prepared statement. “ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy.”
ICE officials also denied they were carrying out “sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately.”
“What I would really like to do is to appeal to everyone to continue to be prudent in your coverage of immigration enforcement,” David Marin, ICE’s Los Angeles field office director, told reporters in a conference call Friday evening.
“The rash of these recent reports about ICE checkpoints and random sweeps and the like — it is all false. And it is definitely dangerous and irresponsible because reports like that create a panic and they put communities and the law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger.”
More than 160 people — mostly men with criminal histories — were arrested this week in the Los Angeles area, according to ICE. Some will face prosecution for illegally reentering the country after being deported.
“The last time we conducted an operation — I believe it was this summer — we arrested about 200 targets in the same five-day period,” Marin said. “So this operation that we recently conducted is on par with similar operations that we have done in the past. We do these operations two to three times a year. This is nothing out of the ordinary.”
Ali Noorani, executive director of the Washington-based National Immigration Forum, decried the arrests.
“The security of our nation depends on law enforcement gaining and maintaining the trust of all members of a community, regardless of immigration status,” he said in a prepared statement. “These actions, as reported, undermine that trust, decrease public safety and do very little to keep our nation secure.”
He added: “The fear coursing through immigrant homes and the native-born Americans who love immigrants as friends and family is palpable.”
California Senate President pro tempore Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat, also weighed in.
“If you want to ensure ongoing safety of the public and law enforcement personnel,” he said, “my recommendation is to drop the mass deportation threats roiling our communities and instead focus strictly on dangerous felons.”