U.S. authorities on Monday said they arrested nearly 700 undocumented immigrants as part of a series of raids tied to President Trump’s executive order to find and deport 11 million people living in the United States illegally.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested 680 people from Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York City last week whom they say pose a threat to public safety. Of those, 170 have no criminal record.
During a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump praised Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and said the raids were fulfilling a campaign promise.
Kelly emphasized that the operations were “routine” though immigration advocates claim ICE’s actions go well beyond what the previous administration did.
The executive order Trump signed last month gives the Department of Homeland Security the power to go after undocumented immigrants who have minor offenses or no convictions at all.
“President Trump has been clear in affirming the critical mission of DHS in protecting the nation and directed our Department to focus on removing illegal aliens who have violated our immigration laws, with a specific focus on those who pose a threat to public safety, have been charged with criminal offenses, have committed immigration violations or have been deported and re-entered the country illegally,” Kelly said.
Kelly added that of the 680 people arrested, 75 percent were “criminal aliens.” Some of the crimes included homicide, aggravated sexual abuse, drug trafficking, DUI and weapons charges.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday he will ask ICE for more information about the arrests – including the locations and more details about the people detained – and called reports that ICE targeted non-violent immigrant families “deeply disturbing.”
“Undocumented immigrants live in fear, and they are confused and scared,” Schumer said.
The New York Democrat also called out ICE for its lack of transparency and potential due process violations.
“I have always supported smart immigration enforcement that helps to keep our country safe, but raids targeting law-abiding immigrants and treating those with traffic violations the same as murderers and robbers will only achieve the opposite,” he said.