Officials Tout Record Roundup of 'Criminal Aliens,' Obama Immigration Policy

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A federal operation last week netted more than 3,000 'criminal aliens' nationwide, US immigration officials said Monday. They also defended Obama's immigration policy as 'sensible.'

A federal roundup of "criminal aliens" and major immigration law violators last week resulted in 3,168 arrests in all 50 states, the largest such operation ever, US immigration officials announced Monday.

Of illegal immigrants taken into custody during the six-day operation, dubbed "Cross Check," 2,834 had prior criminal convictions, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, at ICE's headquarters in Washington. Some 559 of those detained were illegal reentrants into the US who had previously been removed from the country, he said.

Illegal immigration, and what to do about some 11 million people living illegally in the United States, has long been a contentious issue - and one on which President Obama might be vulnerable with Latino voters during this election year. The Obama administration has made much of its record level of deportations, though it has sought to soften that hard-line statistic by targeting what it describes as "criminal aliens," or people who commit crimes other than entering the US without proper documentation.

In announcing the roundup, Mr. Morton vigorously defended the Obama administration's immigration policies against critics on both the left and right. Those on the left charge that ICE's stepped-up immigration enforcement is leading to the needless breakup of hundreds of thousands of families a year. Critics on the right charge that the Obama administration's policy of prosecutorial discretion that focuses on deporting on criminal aliens is, in fact, a back-door amnesty program for most illegal immigrants.

"Good immigration enforcement is good use of limited federal resources. …