WASHINGTON (AP/The Blaze) -- The White House said Monday it arrested more than 3,100 immigrants who were illegally in the country and who were convicted of serious crimes or otherwise considered fugitives or threats to national security.
The arrests were the result of an intense six-day nationwide sweep, the third and largest of its kind, codenamed "Operation Cross Check."
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"The results of this targeted enforcement operation underscore ICE's [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] ongoing commitment and focus on the arrest and removal of convicted criminal aliens and those that game our nation's immigration system," ICE Director John Morton said in a release.
"Because of the tireless efforts and teamwork of ICE officers and agents in tracking down criminal aliens and fugitives, there are 3,168 fewer criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators in our neighborhoods across the country," he added.
U.S. ICE said the sweep included every state and involved more than 1,900 of the agency's officers and agents.
The sweep comes nearly a year after ICE pledged to focus on deporting illegal immigrants with serious criminal histories and those who posed national security threats, while going easier on many who stay out of trouble.
Officials said most of those arrested had entered the country illegally. Others had violated the terms for legally being in the United States and were subject to deportation.
"These are people we do not want roaming our streets," Morton said at a news conference, according to Reuters.
The totals included an estimated 50 gang members and 149 convicted sex offenders. The cases of at least 204 of them were referred to federal prosecutors for a variety of serious charges, including illegal re-entry after deportation, a felony that can carry up to 20 years in prison.
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Morton issued guidelines in June that suggested the agency would ease up on illegal immigrants who are military veterans, elderly, in the United States since childhood or had relatives who were citizens or legal residents. In August, the Department of Homeland Security announced a review of about 300,000 cases in the nation's clogged immigration courts aimed at giving reprieves to the lowest-priority offenders.
Latinos and other immigrant communities have eyed the pledges warily as the Obama administration has removed record numbers of illegal immigrants - nearly 400,000 in each of the last three years, according to the Associated Press.
The agents participating in last week's sweeps typically knock on doors early in the morning before people go to work.
The sweep included 116 different nationalities and represented the third such sweep under the program called Operation Cross Check. The last sweep resulted in the arrest of about 2,900 people.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.