Federal immigration agents arrested nearly 200 people in the Los Angeles area during a five-day dragnet targeting criminal offenders living in the country illegally, U.S. officials said Thursday.
Agents arrested 188 people in an operation targeting "at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and immigration fugitives," according to a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Nearly 90% — 169 — of those arrested in the operation, which ended Wednesday, had prior convictions, officials said. Those arrested included nationals from 11 countries. The majority, 146 people, are from Mexico. Others are nationals of El Salvador, Armenia, Honduras, Thailand, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Russia and the Philippines, according to ICE.
Among them was a 29-year-old Salvadoran national who was deported in 2013 after serving a nine-year prison term for rape and who returned to the United States illegally, ICE said in a statement. Also detained were a previously deported 51-year-old from Mexico convicted of cocaine trafficking, a 47-year-old from Mexico with prior convictions for felony assault and another conviction for battery, and a 26-year-old Salvadoran national who is a registered sex offender, according to ICE.
Other criminal convictions included drug offenses, domestic violence, DUI, sex crimes, battery, weapons violations, assault, burglary, fraud, vehicle theft, arson, cruelty to a child, robbery, obstructing justice, property damage, larceny, escape, manslaughter, prostitution, trespassing, incest, receipt of stolen property, and illegal entry or re-entry, ICE said.
Immigrants who are not being criminally prosecuted will be processed for removal from the country, ICE said.
"By taking these individuals off the streets and removing them from the country, we're making our communities safer for everyone," David Marin, field office director for enforcement and removal operations in Los Angeles, said in a statement.
Officials have said that ICE practices in Los Angeles have not changed, despite President Trump's promised crackdown on those in the United States illegally.
Although arrests by ICE are up 35% nationwide since Trump took office, they remain relatively flat in Southern California as of earlier this month. Arrests of immigrants without criminal pasts have remained low in the L.A. region as well, as agents are doing little, if anything, differently from what they were under the previous administration, ICE officials say.
The 188 arrests made this week are in line with the number of people nabbed in similar operations ICE periodically carries out in the region. In February, for example, more than 150 people were arrested during a weeklong campaign, and ICE again ramped up arrests during a several-day stretch last July, which resulted in 112 arrests.
ICE refers to the increased activity as expanded enforcement operations to set them apart from typical arrest levels, which are somewhat lower. ICE's Los Angeles field office, which covers a huge area from San Luis Obispo to San Clemente and from the coast to the Nevada border, has nine teams of agents who arrest people suspected of being in the country illegally. At least one of the teams is active each day and will typically target just a handful of people.
Other agents, meanwhile, focus on arresting people as they are released from local jails.
In the three months after Trump took office, agents in the L.A. field office made 2,273 arrests — marking little change from the 2,166 arrests during the same period last year and a decline from the 2,719 arrests in 2015, according to ICE figures. Ninety percent of the people arrested this year had criminal records, the highest percentage among all ICE offices in the United States, the numbers show.
The L.A. figures differ starkly from those in Atlanta, Dallas and elsewhere, where the number of people without criminal records arrested by ICE has jumped dramatically in the months since Trump took office. In Atlanta, for example, noncriminal arrests rose more than fivefold over last year and accounted for a third of all ICE arrests.
12 p.m.: This article was updated with more context on the number of arrests.
11:30 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the people arrested.