U.S. immigration authorities said Monday they have arrested more than 2,000 undocumented immigrants with prior criminal convictions, including 18 in Sacramento and Yolo counties.
The five-day, nationwide crackdown, called Operation Cross Check, ended Thursday after hundreds of agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested immigrants from 94 nations identified as threats to public safety, said ICE Public Affairs Officer Lori K. Haley.
“We’re focusing on those who pose the greatest risk to our communities,” Haley said. “Our country has opened its arms to immigrants since its inception, but if you come here unlawfully and turn to crime, a different reception awaits you – arrest, detention and removal.”
More than 1,000 of the 2,059 people arrested had felony convictions, including voluntary manslaughter, rape, robbery, kidnapping and child pornography, Haley said, and 58 were known gang members or members of affiliates. Eighty-nine were convicted sex offenders, Haley added.
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The vast majority of others picked up in Operation Cross Check had misdemeanor DUI convictions, Haley said. “ICE considers DUI offenders, particularly repeat offenders, a significant public safety threat.”
Mike Vaughn, assistant field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in Sacramento, said the people picked up in the Sacramento region “were all out on the street and all have committed a crime we’re able to charge them with that makes them removable.”
Cross Check arrested 19 people in San Joaquin County, 15 in Sacramento County, 13 in Stanislaus County, eight in Tehama County, three in Yolo County and one in Shasta, Vaughn said.
Twenty had prior convictions for serious or violent crimes, Vaughn said. Those arrested in the Sacramento region included:
▪ A 24-year-old Fijian citizen in Sacramento with convictions for burglary, narcotics trafficking, possession of a firearm and driving under the influence causing bodily harm.
▪ A 30-year-old Mexican national and documented Sureño gang member in Woodland with previous convictions for receiving stolen property, possession of a weapon, participating in a street gang, burglary and assault who returned after having been deported.
▪ A 25-year-old Mexican national and documented Blood gang member residing in Sacramento with previous convictions for receiving stolen property, possession of a weapon, participating in a street gang, burglary and assault.
Thirty-nine arrested in Sacramento and other Northern California inland counties had three or more misdemeanor offenses or felonies, including burglary, theft or other nonviolent crimes, Vaughn said. “Some of those caught in Cross Check have already been deported, others are in ICE custody awaiting removal, and others are in removal proceedings who will have their day in court before an immigration judge because there’s no removal order in place yet.”
The 2,059 people caught nationwide included 476 who had previously been deported and five who had been ordered to leave the country but failed to go, ICE said in a statement. Because of their serious criminal histories and prior immigration arrest records, 163 of those arrested likely will be prosecuted by U.S. attorneys on new charges, including illegal re-entry after deportation, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, ICE said.
Haley said ICE began conducting national operations targeting immigrants with criminal histories in May 2011. In fiscal year 2014, the federal agency removed 315,943 foreign nationals for a broad range of crimes ranging from domestic violence to threats to national security.
Call The Bee’s Stephen Magagnini, (916) 321-1072.