U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says it arrested 235 foreign nationals in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Kansas and Missouri during a targeted enforcement operation over the past week.
In a press release, ICE says 163 of those arrested had criminal convictions and 60 were previously removed from the U.S. and re-entered illegally.
Among those arrested was a citizen of Mexico in Indiana who has previous criminal convictions for domestic battery, aggravated criminal sexual abuse with a victim under 13 and aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a family member.
ICE says some of those arrested will face charges from the U.S. Attorney’s office. Those not being prosecuted will be processed for deportation.
NPR reports the raids sparked controversy across the U.S.:
The raids prompted an outcry from immigrant rights advocates, concerned about the scale and synchronization of the raids — which they described as unusual, despite ICE’s characterizations of the operations as “routine” — and by shifts in practice compared with previous ICE operations.
For instance, last week’s ICE arrests included “collateral damage,” or people who were picked up despite not being targeted in the operations — for instance, because they were in the same place as a person who was targeted, and did not have documentation.
ICE says the operation is aimed at ensuring public safety.
“ICE conducts these kind of targeted enforcement operations regularly and has for many years,” Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly said in a statement. “The focus of these enforcement operations is consistent with the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’S Fugitive Operations teams on a daily basis.”