Photo by Alexander Nguyen
Photo by Alexander Nguyen

More than 240 people have been taken into federal custody across Southern California in a four-day sweep for immigrants who have criminal records and who are in the country illegally.

The enforcement action ended Thursday with 244 foreign nationals in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement — the majority of them with at least one felony conviction on their record, authorities said, according to the Los Angeles Times Tuesday.

It was the most successful four-day sweep of its kind in the region, ICE said. But an ICE spokeswoman cautioned against concluding that crime involving immigrants is up.

“One of the challenges we’re facing is because of state law and local policies, more individuals who are potentially deportable with significant criminal histories are being released onto the street instead of being turned over to ICE,” agency spokeswoman Virginia Kice said in remarks reported by The Times.

“I think to infer from (the sweep) that potentially foreign nationals are committing more crimes is flawed.”

Among the people captured, 191 were from Mexico and the rest were from 21 other countries including France, Ghana, Peru and Thailand, the agency said, according to The Times.

A majority of them had convictions for violent felonies or weapons or sex abuse charges. The rest had past convictions for “significant or multiple misdemeanors,” ICE said in a statement.

Not everyone captured in the sweep was in the country illegally, Kice said. Some are documented nationals who may be deported because of a recent crime.

—City News Service

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