ICE Says Arrests in Surge Actions Not Linked to Trump Order

This week U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made sweeping arrests

ByABC News
February 10, 2017, 10:59 PM

— -- This week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made a number of arrests in Southern California, New York, Atlanta and Chicago, but an official says the actions are not tied to one of President Donald Trump's executive orders.

ICE confirms more than 160 arrests of foreign nationals in the last five days in the Los Angeles area, sparking concerns that a roundup under Trump's executive order on the interior had begun.

In a press call this evening, ICE Enforcement and Removals (ERO) L.A. Field Office Director David Marin said that there was no connection to the operation conducted in Southern California and Trump’s order, issued just five days after he took the oath of office.

Rather, the agency said, the L.A. action was part of regular surge operations and planning began before the executive order was issued. ICE would not comment on potential future implications of the order.

“This operation that we conducted is on par with similar operations that were done in the past,” Marin said.

During the campaign, Trump's promise to deport undocumented immigrants -- at one point he floated the idea of a deportation force -- shifted to focusing on those with criminal backgrounds.

However, the executive order contains language that may mark all of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. for deportation -- prioritizing those who were charged with or could be charged with a criminal offense.

An ICE official tells ABC News that almost all of those arrested in the L.A. area had criminal histories and were targeted based on criminal activity, illegal re-entries after previous deportation or as immigration fugitives.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told ABC News that some of those being picked up and deported from around the country were charged with Social Security fraud because they were seeking work. He said that regardless of the criminal offense, the individuals’ 'luck ran out.'"

“All of these people are being ordered out by an immigration judge and the men and women of ICE are simply executing the law which is what our job is,” said Kelly.

An ICE official says the department conducts operations daily across the country, but does not conduct random sweeps. Rather ICE operations are based on investigative leads, the official said..

Meanwhile, in Texas today, one ICE officer was injured while making an arrest, according to an ICE official. The officer has since been treated and released from the hospital.