- Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers conducted a series of raids nationwide
- The 'routine' operations mainly targeted those with criminal convictions
- Donald Trump said the removal of immigrants was in keeping with his campaign promise
- Undocumented migrants say they live in fear the raids will 'tear families apart'
Hundreds of illegal immigrants across 11 states were arrested last week as part of targeted operations, federal immigration officials revealed on Sunday.
A series of raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers saw around 600 people apprehended.
The agency said the operations were 'routine'.
A series of raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers saw around 600 people apprehended
President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Sunday morning to proclaim his commitment to a crackdown on crime.
He tweeted: 'The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!'
Immigration was a key point of the billionaire's presidential campaign before his election in November 2016.
The president plans to build a wall across the Mexican border to prevent to stop what he calls the 'unprecedented surge' of illegal migrants from Central America.
The raids are the first coordinated efforts by ICE under the Trump administration to arrest targeted undocumented migrants.
Last month the President prioritized the deportation of undocumented males 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 approximately 160 people had been arrested in the city.
Some 75 percent of them had prior felony convictions, he said, adding that some people had been apprehended solely because they were undocumented.
A woman whose father was arrested by ICE officers early on Friday morning in Los Angeles. Undocumented migrants say they live in fear that the raids will 'tear families apart'
By Friday night, 37 undocumented immigrants had already been expelled to Mexico.
An additional 40 were arrested in New York City, which hosts around 1.15million undocumented immigrants.
A further 200 were arrested across Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin and another 200 across North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
It was unclear as to whether the operation was a sign of things to come or if they were conducted as part of other procedures implemented under the Obama administration.
The former president was very active in deporting illegal immigrants and oversaw the deportation of 2.5million people.
And in 2015, ICE notably arrested more than 2,000 people nationwide in one week.
President Donald Trump said the crackdown was 'merely in keeping of my campaign promise'
The agency's spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said: 'The focus of these operations is no different than the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE's Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis.'
But the raids have left immigrant communities shaken with many fearing their families will be torn apart.
One 62-year-old Peruvian immigrant said Hispanic immigrants were being targeted.
'Yes, we are afraid. You hear about all of these raids going on. Of course, they are going to stop you if you are Hispanic. You feel like you have a target on your back,' He told the New York Daily News.
'All you can do is pray.'
Cruz, an undocumented deliveryman from Mexico, said he and his wife tell their two teenage children to 'never do anything wrong'.
He added: 'They will look at everyone in our family and that will be it. It's not safe, you have to act perfect.'
Immigration advocates said many immigrants are now afraid to send their children to school and or go to church or work or the hospital as panicked rumors spread as quickly as the truth.
'Every time so much as a white guy with a clipboard is walking around, everyone runs into their apartments and locks the doors,' said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, legal director for Legal Aid Justice Center's immigrant advocacy program in northern Virginia.
But Marin said the operations were planned prior to Trump's swearing-in and were comparable to past actions.
And he rebuffed reports about ICE checkpoints and random sweeps, calling them 'dangerous and irresponsible'.
'Reports like that create panic, and they put communities and law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger,' he said.
The raids, which hit residential areas and workplaces, sparked protests last week and provoked the ire of elected Democratic representatives.
'President Trump's policy change betrays our values,' Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said in a statement.
'Tearing families apart isn't what this country stands for.
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