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175 immigrants arrested in O.C.

June 23, 2007|H.G. Reza | Times Staff Writer

Federal agents arrested 175 people during a five-day sweep in Orange County that included immigrants convicted of crimes or who had been ordered deported but remained in the United States, officials said Friday.

Jim Hayes, an official with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Los Angeles, said 100 of those arrested in the crackdown, which began Monday, have been returned to their native countries. They include a 30-year-old Mexican man convicted of child molestation in the United States and a 35-year-old man charged in Mexico with murdering his uncle nine years ago, Hayes said.

The operation by special immigration enforcement teams was the largest of its kind in Orange County, according to an agency statement. The Orange County team became operational June 1. Among the illegal immigrants it arrested were fugitives who had been ordered deported and those with criminal records. Some immigrants were turned in by the public, or in one case by family members, Hayes said.

Agents also relied on a national database with names of fugitive illegal immigrants who have ignored deportation orders. Immigration officials said 632,189 people are in this category, and authorities hope to make a dent in this number through the 61 enforcement teams operating nationwide. Fourteen more teams are expected to be operational by the end of the year.

The immigration teams have been more active in the Los Angeles area, where more than 1,600 people have been arrested in the last nine months, including 300 charged with or convicted of crimes in the U.S. or other countries, Hayes said.

Twenty-seven of those arrested in Orange County had criminal records and 26 had ignored an immigration judge's order to leave the U.S., officials said.

About 10 of the people arrested were women, Hayes said.

Most of those picked up were from Mexico, but others were from India, Kenya, the Philippines and Colombia.

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