Last week, a seven-day crackdown on illegal immigration took place, rounding up 2,901 undocumented immigrants with substantial criminal records. This roundup was the result of the widest net ever cast by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the number of illegal immigrants ensnared is one of the largest totals. The Obama administration has been hit by some harsh criticism for some time now, with many Hispanic groups and some Democrats saying that it is too concerned with arresting and deporting illegal immigrants for minor offenses. On the other hand, Tea Party groups and other conservatives say that it has not taken a hard enough stance on illegal immigration. The latest action taken by the administration is a definite sign that, in an attempt to appease both groups, it is trying to find a middle ground on immigration policies. The seven-day crackdown is part of the White House’s focus on deporting criminals and “egregious immigration law violators,” according to ICE. Among those rounded up were people convicted of manslaughter, sex-crime offenders, and drug traffickers. An immigration policy expert at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor said, “The administration is making a finer distinction with these sweeps-that we’re focusing less on the kind of residual category of immigrants and more on [criminals]. For the administration, it becomes more of a calculation: What policy carries the lesser damage?” The sweep, which spanned across all 50 states and four U.S. territories, was part of “Operation Cross Check,” which has steadily been building steam since it carried out its first raid in December 2009. So far, this directive has resulted in a total of 7,400 arrests-the majority of which have been in the past three months. In all, ICE has detained or deported more than 109,700 criminal immigrants this year alone, estimating that there are a million illegal immigrants with criminal records in the U.S. The director of ICE said in a press conference that, “You are going to see a sustained focus on criminal offenders from this agency. These are not the kind of people we want walking our streets.” According to ICE, more than 1,600 of those arrested in the most recent sweep had felony convictions, and an additional 1,282 had multiple convictions. Yet despite the fact that ICE has become more focused on whom they target, advocacy groups have taken notice that Hispanics have become the No. 1 minority group being sent to federal prison, largely because of sweeps such as this one.
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