About 50 foreign nationals were arrested in the Chicago area as part of sweeping immigration roundups across the country in the last week.
Nationwide, federal agents arrested 680 people during what Homeland Security officials called routine enforcement operations which occur every few months.
Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents made big-city sweeps of what they call "targeted" immigrants, including those with criminal backgrounds, gang members or those who re-entered the U.S. after previously being deported.
However, critics said the arrests were raids where agents went after a much wider group than the Obama administration had targeted.
In Chicago, stake-outs of suspected immigration criminals and violators nabbed 47 men and one woman. Teams of ICE agents spread out across Chicago and in 20 suburbs, including Arlington Heights, Aurora and Elgin, as well as Hammond, Ind.
ICE officials told the I-Team that all but three of the people they arrested had criminal backgrounds, including several citizens of Mexico and Iraq who had been convicted of sexual abuse of minors.
Other foreign nationals picked up in the Chicago area had convictions for prostitution, cocaine possession, burglary and criminal sexual assault.
While the government insists they "targeted public safety threats," protesters around the country and in Chicago object to what they see as raids.
ICE officials said they do not conduct raids or sweeps, run checkpoints or target random immigrants.
The Midwest ICE headquarters last week coordinated the arrests of 235 people in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Kansas and Missouri, which were aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminals who are undocumented.
One person who was not arrested was ICE's most wanted in Chicago -- Atancio Arellano-Guttierrez, an accused gang member and convicted gun offender. Arellano-Guttierrez was deported in 2013 but he sneaked back into the U.S. and now wanted for felony burglary and deportation again.
About 30 percent of those arrested in the Midwest were not violent offenders, slightly more than figures for the rest of the nation.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Monday that it was unclear how many non-violent arrestees were held for what is known as "status violations," including driving without a license or using fake Social Security numbers.
Nearly 50 arrested in Chicago area during immigration roundups
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