Immigrants' fears grow as ICE raids strike close to home

Federal immigration authorities launched a new wave of raids and other actions in several states over the past five days aimed at sweeping up people who are in this country illegally. "You're going to have some people, who by the way have violated the law, but don't fit that one category", the Governor said. That number includes 127 people with criminal convictions, according to ICE. "As it is part of a criminal investigation pending federal prosecution, we can not release further details".

"Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!" the president exclaimed.

Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said the raids were part of "routine" immigration enforcement actions.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has said the arrests over the course of the last week are no different from the routine arrests that took place under President Barack Obama.

"ICE will not confirm an operation prior to its completion, nor will ICE speculate on future operational activities", she said.

The arrests also included immigrants who had re-entered the country after being deported or whose deportation had been ordered by an immigration judge. "We're actually taking people that are criminals, very, very hardened criminals in some cases, with a tremendous track record of abuse and problems, and we're getting them out".

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they targeted known criminals and arrested hundreds of illegal immigrants in what they called an "enforcement surge" that began February 6 and took place in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and the Carolinas.

United States president Donald Trump has defended the detention of hundreds of immigrants by federal authorities in recent days, describing the action as a fulfilment of his campaign promises.

But some law enforcement agencies have said that the ongoing raids had been on their agenda before Mr. Trump came into office.

But if Secure Communities was accused of overreaching, the president's executive order goes further by expanding the definition of a removable alien to someone who has been charged with any criminal offense, even if they have not been convicted, or someone who has committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense. Of those arrested, he said, about 75 percent were criminal aliens.

In a press release, ICE says 163 of those arrested had criminal convictions and 60 were previously removed from the USA and re-entered illegally.

Western region ICE officials said that 161 immigrants were detained in the Los Angeles area across six counties.