Washington, Feb 12: Hundreds of undocumented immigrants from a dozen Latin American countries have been arrested in at least six US states this week, following President Donald Trump's executive order to broaden the scope of immigration enforcement targets.
The Immigrants were netted in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina, Xinhua news agency quoted US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials as saying on Saturday. Among them 161 arrests were made in Los Angeles and some 200 in Atlanta, said local media reports. The authorities didn't reveal the total number of the arrests.
Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, said the crackdown was part of "routine" immigration enforcement actions. A majority of those detained were serious criminals, including some who were convicted of murder and domestic violence, she said.
"We're talking about people who are threats to public safety or a threat to the integrity of the immigration system," she said. However, a Washington Post report said some of the detained are without criminal records, calling it the first large-scale crackdown under the Trump administration.
On January 25, Trump issued an executive order ending the previous "catch and release" policy. Under the new order, the immigration enforcement are allowed to target undocumented immigrants with minor offences or no convictions.
Immigration officials acknowledged that as a result of Trump's executive order, authorities had cast a wider net than they would have last year, said the report.
The Obama administration has also pursued a more aggressive deportation policy than any previous Presidents, sending over 400,000 people back to their birth countries in 2012. However, in his second term, Obama prioritised convicted criminals for deportation.
On the 2016 campaign trail, Trump pledged to deport two to three million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.
There are estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living across the United States.