Federal authorities recently arrested more than 2,000 foreign nationals during a five-day operation aimed at catching fugitive immigrants, officials with the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, said Monday.
CNN reports the operation, called Operation Cross Check, was the fifth such sweep since 2011.
Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the sweeps are intended to round up the “worst of the worst criminals.”
The recent operation resulted in 2,059 arrests. Nearly half of those arrested had felony convictions and about 500 had been previously deported but had re-entered the country.
Cross Check came about after a directive, issued by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson in November 2014, that set new priorities for detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants.
An unnamed Homeland Security spokesman told WVEC News that those priorities refocused efforts on aggravated felons and those convicted of serious misdemeanors.
"Priority one targets include threats to national security, criminal street gang members, convicted felons and aggravated felons," the spokesman said. "Priority two targets have convictions for three or more misdemeanors or convictions for significant misdemeanors, including DUIs.”
Statistics provided by CNN indicate Cross Check caught 400 aggravated felons and over 900 individuals with DUI records.
Those arrested came from 94 different countries.
The arrests are expected to generate 163 federal cases that will be handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office. Those cases include a Jamaican man convicted in Atlanta of assaulting a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon and a Finnish citizen convicted of possession of child pornography.
Matt Munroe, who is the acting deputy field office director for ICE’s Virginia office, said the operations are essential to keeping dangerous criminals off the streets.
“We've taken them out of the community, removed that threat to the community from these convicted criminals and have deported them from the United States,” Munroe told WVEC.
The five operations since 2011 have resulted in 13,214 arrests.
Photo Credit: WikiCommons, WVEC News