'Cross check' immigration sting nets nearly 3,000 convicted criminals

It is part of the Obama administration’s newly revamped approach to focusing on arresting and deporting illegal immigrants in the country who pose the greatest risk to American communities.

"The results of this targeted enforcement operation underscore ICE's ongoing commitment and focus on the arrest and removal of convicted criminal aliens and those that game our nation's immigration system,” said ICE’s director, John Morton, on Wednesday.

More than 1,600 of the criminals arrested had felony convictions for crimes including manslaughter, attempted murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, drug trafficking, child abuse, sexual crimes against minors and aggravated assault.

Among those arrested was a Panamanian man previously convicted on charges of child molestation who was living illegally in Georgia; a Jamaican convicted rapist living illegally in Massachusetts; and a Honduran man convicted on felony charges of burglary and armed assault who was living illegally in South Carolina and wanted in Miami on charges of attempted first-degree murder, kidnapping, burglary and armed assault.

Congressional Republicans have criticized ICE’s new approach, which was officially launched in June and gives agents the power to focus on the illegal immigration cases they view to be of the greatest risk to the American’s safety.

Republicans have argued that by focusing on criminals, the approach takes away resources from other illegal immigration cases, and is a back-door approach to giving young illegal immigrants a pathway to U.S. citizenship — a move that the Obama administration has pushed for under language outlined in the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which is stalled on Capitol Hill.

Immigration is likely to play a prominent role in the 2012 elections, and the White House has been steadily moving to reach out to its Hispanic voter base while ramping up arrests and deportations of illegal immigrants. In the last fiscal year, the Obama administration deported nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants — more than in any year prior — according to The Associated Press.

The Department of Homeland Security has also funneled an unprecedented amount of resources to the Southwest border in an effort to curb illegal drug, human and weapons smuggling, as Mexico’s war against drug cartels continues to spiral. Many leading Republicans have said they will not take up the issue of immigration reform until the U.S.-Mexico border is secure.