Federal agents in California arrested 280 foreigners with criminal records, most for serious offenses, in their largest such crackdown to date, U.S. immigration officials said on Friday.
More than 100 of those rounded up in a three-day sweep that ended late Thursday have since been expelled from the United States, and most of the rest face immediate deportation proceedings.
The bulk of the individuals had prior convictions for crimes such as rape and other sex offenses, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.
"These are not people we want walking our streets," Assistant Homeland Security Secretary John Morton said at a news conference in Los Angeles.
He touted the statewide sweep as the biggest such operation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, Reuters informs.
Officials said 96 of the 286 arrests took place in Los Angeles County. Among those arrested in the county were a suspected gang member from El Salvador who had a 2004 robbery conviction and a Guatemalan man with a 1993 conviction for lewd acts with a child under 14.
The arrests were conducted as part of a controversial program designed to arrest and deport immigrants who have criminal records, who have ignored deportation orders or who were deported and illegally reentered the United States.
About 400 officers and agents took part in the operation. Those arrested included people from Mexico, Denmark, Taiwan and Tonga, The Los Angeles Times reports.
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