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Federal agents nabbed more than 600 in immigration raids last week, Homeland Security chief says

Federal immigration agents arrested more than 600 people, including 161 in the Los Angeles area, during a weeklong dragnet targeting criminal offenders living in the country illegally, U.S. officials said Monday.

Agents arrested at least 680 people deemed "a threat to public safety, border security or the integrity of our nation's immigration system" in the operation, according to a statement by Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

More than 75% of those arrested were in the country illegally and had been previously charged with crimes ranging from homicide to sexual assault, Kelly said.

He described the raids as routine and not a stepped-up effort to find and deport migrants in the country illegally, as critics have charged.

U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement "conducts these kind of targeted enforcement operations regularly and has for many years," Kelly said.

He said the arrests were concentrated around Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Atlanta and San Antonio.

Immigration advocacy groups reacted with alarm when reports of the raids spread across social media on Thursday and Friday.

The groups expressed concern that the sweeps represented a more aggressive push by the Trump administration to crack down on illegal immigration.

Officials with  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the raids were focused on rounding up people with criminal records, as in the past.

In his statement, Kelly said "the focus of these enforcement operations is consistent with the routine, targeted arrests carried out" daily by ICE agents.

Trump tweeted on Sunday that "the crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise."

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