U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested about 900 people during the last two months. The majority of those, though, occurred outside of the high-profile recent operation President Donald Trump tweeted about earlier this month.
From mid-May to mid-July, immigration enforcement agents arrested 899 individuals. Of those, 605 were convicted criminals and 93 had pending criminal charges.
Matt Albence, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said during a call with reporters that the individuals targeted were those who, within the last five years, had final deportation orders.
“In general, what we’re looking at with these charges are a whole host of individuals with crimes ranging from domestic violence and all sorts of other violent offenses, firearm charges, other weapons charges, very serious individuals," Albence said.
In addition to the arrests, ICE has notified more than 3,000 businesses that their employment records will be audited.
“When we perform these worksite surges and all of our worksite investigations, our primary goal is to pursue criminal prosecution against those businesses who, frankly, their business model is based upon illegal employment," Albence said.
If those companies are found to violate current laws, they could face charges such as tax fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. Employees of those companies who are unauthorized to work in the country could face charges too.
Albence said the majority of people coming to the U.S. are economic migrants, as in they’re looking for work.
“What this effort is trying to do is to restore integrity to the employment system within this country," he said. "So individuals that are not lawful and do not have lawful authorization to work here in this country cannot easily find employment."
Albence also said customs enforcement wants companies to stop breaking the law.
Two weekends ago, however, during a publicized operation aimed at families, ICE said only 35 people were detained. Albence said 17 of those were among the family members targeted, while the other individuals were “collateral arrests.” After President Trump tweeted about that operation, the publicity caused a lot of fear among immigrant communities. Albence said that attention may have affected the outcome.