Joseph Serna and Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, August 31, 2015
More than 240 people were taken into federal custody last week across Southern California after a four-day sweep for immigrants with criminal records in the country illegally, authorities announced Monday.
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.
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. “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. 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 news release.
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.
Among those captured was Vincente Onofre-Ramirez, 35, who authorities say was convicted in 2002 of sexual abuse with force in New York.
In Sunland, authorities arrested a 50-year-old Salvadorian national convicted of two criminal counts of child sex abuse in Los Angeles County; in Upland, a 46-year-old man from Guatemala who previously served 10 years in prison for sexually abusing two children was arrested.