U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement netted 2,059 convicted alien criminals in a five-day nationwide sweep dubbed “Operation Cross Check,” the agency announced Monday.
The round-up was undertaken by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations and stretched from March 1 through March 5.
More than 1,000 of the arrested aliens had multiple criminal convictions, according to an ICE press release. More than 1,000 had felony convictions for violent crimes, including manslaughter, rape, child pornography, robbery and kidnapping.
Fifty-eight were known gang members and another 89 were convicted sex offenders.
Of those aliens with misdemeanors, a vast majority were picked up with DUIs and drug charges on their records.
Many of the apprehended aliens had popped up on immigration agencies’ radars in the past. Five of those apprehended were immigration fugitives who had been ordered removed in the past. Another 476 had illegally re-entered the country after previously being removed.
Those arrested fell into the top two priority categories recently established by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. In a Nov. 20 memo entitled “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants,” Johnson created three priority categories for criminal alien removal.
Priority 1 is reserved for national security threats, gang members, convicted felons and aggravated felons.
Removal of aliens in this category “must be prioritized,” Johnson instructed.
Priority 2 criminal aliens are those convicted of numerous misdemeanors, or significant misdemeanors such as domestic violence or sexual abuse or exploitation, unlawful use of a firearm or drug trafficking.
Aliens in that category “should be removed,” according to Johnson’s memo.
A third category of aliens that “should generally be removed” includes non-criminal aliens who have received orders of removal.
The creation of the three categories was met with some criticism because it was seen as evidence that the Obama administration will not enforce immigration laws to their fullest extent.
“This national operation exemplifies ICE’s ongoing commitment to prioritizing convicted criminals and public safety threats for apprehension and removal,” ICE Director Sarah Saldaña said in the statement. “By taking these individuals off our streets and removing them from the country, we are making our communities safer for everyone.”
The criminal aliens with standing removal orders and those who have re-entered the U.S. illegally are subject to immediate deportation. The others will go before ICE judges for a removal hearing.
Last week’s sweep was ICE’s sixth Operation Cross Check. The first sweep, conducted in May 2011, snared 2,442 convicted aliens. The most recent operation, conducted in Aug. 2013, roped 1,660.
According to ICE, 315,943 illegal aliens were removed from the U.S. in 2014.