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Immigration officials arrest 2,000 illegals in nationwide enforcement effort

[JURIST] The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) [official website] has arrested over 2,000 illegal immigrants [press release] since May 26 in an effort to crackdown on deported gang members, pedophiles and violent felons who snuck back into the US, officials said Wednesday. Under the nationwide "Operation Return to Sender," half of the illegal immigrants arrested had criminal records and more than 360 were associated with violent gangs, according to ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Myers [official profile]. Most of those arrested were put into deportation proceedings, while 829 have already been repatriated to their native countries and 121 will face criminal charges in the US. They face a range of charges, including sexual assault of a minor, assault with a deadly weapon, and abduction. Many of the illegal immigrants associated with violent gangs were members of the notorious Los Angeles-based gang, Mara Salvatrucha [Wikipedia backgrounder]. Myers described the arrestees as unwelcome, stating:

America's welcome does not extend to immigrants who come here to commit crimes. ICE will leave no stone unturned in hunting down and deporting aliens who victimize our communities. Interior enforcement initiatives like Operation Return to Sender are a critical and necessary complement to our nation's border security measures.
The arrests are part of an interior immigration enforcement strategy [press release] introduced by Department of Homeland Security [official website] Secretary Michael Chertoff [official profile] and Myers in April, which seeks to identify and deport criminal aliens, fugitives and other illegal immigrants.

In a related development, ICE officials raided [Washington Post report] a construction site at Dulles International Airport Wednesday, arresting 55 illegal immigrants working at the construction site. AP has more.

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