Washington (AFP) – President Donald Trump said Sunday that the arrest of hundreds of undocumented migrants across the United States last week was in keeping with his campaign promise to remove “illegal criminals” from the country.
The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency rounded up undocumented individuals living in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and other cities, in what it called “routine” operations.
Trump had vowed to deport as many as three million immigrants with criminal records and build a wall along the border with Mexico during his campaign.
On Sunday, he said the roundup helped fulfill that pledge.
“The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!” Trump tweeted.
The raids follow a January 25 executive order in which Trump prioritized the deportation of undocumented individuals who had been convicted of or “charged with any criminal offense,” including misdemeanors.
David Marin, head of ICE’s removal operations in Los Angeles, told reporters that the operations — which saw 160 people swept up in the California metropolis — were planned prior to Trump’s January swearing-in and were comparable to past actions.
But Trump aide Stephen Miller told “Fox News Sunday” that the raids were more robust due to Trump’s order.
“As a result of the president’s order, greatly expanded and more vigorous immigration enforcement activities are taking place,” he said.
“It is true that Operation Cross Check is something that happens every year. But this year we have taken new and greater steps to remove criminal aliens from our communities” Miller said.
In 2011 a series of large-scale raids called “Operation Cross Check” began under then president Barack Obama.