— -- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed 77 people who were in the U.S. illegally as part of a sweep that took place over New Year's weekend that targeted families who had crossed in at the southwest American border.
As part of the removal effort, migrants were put on repatriation flights that took place between Jan. 5-7, from San Antonio, Texas, to Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.
"These enforcement actions targeted adults and their children who were subject to final orders of removal, who had an opportunity to present their claims to an immigration judge," said an ICE spokesperson in a statement today.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson announced last week that 121 undocumented individuals were taken into custody as part of a targeted effort to deport families that were apprehended after May 1, 2014.
In the spring and summer of 2014 the number of families and unaccompanied children from Central America crossing illegally into the U.S. spiked. Apprehensions dropped down, but have risen again in the last few months.
Government officials have expressed concern over the rising numbers.
"Our borders are not open to illegal migration; if you come here illegally, we will send you back consistent with our laws and values," Johnson said in a statement when he announced the results of the sweeps.
Since the summer of 2014 ICE has been removing migrants to Central America at an increased rate, averaging about fourteen flights a week. However, most of those returns had been single adults, according to DHS.
-Ben Siegel contributed reporting.