Federal officials announced Friday they had arrested 370 immigrants who were in the U.S. illegally or convicted of other crimes as part of a three-day roundup in the Midwest.

Those arrested were legal immigrants with convictions that made them eligible for deportation, illegal immigrants who had been convicted of other crimes, immigration fugitives wanted for being in the country illegally or people who had been deported and come back.

“These are not people we want freely roaming our streets,” said John Morton, director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

The operation involving local law enforcement and federal agencies ended Thursday. Arrests were made in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio, officials said.

The immigrants arrested were from more than 50 countries, and some had been convicted of crimes involving drugs and sexual offenses, ICE said. It was the latest in series of similar enforcement operations ICE has been conducting around the country since last year.

“We will not tolerate those who come here unlawfully and take to a life of crime,” Morton said.

Darryl McPherson, the U.S. marshal for the northern district of Illinois, said there are often misconceptions about enforcement actions.

“We don’t target individuals, we target crimes. We pursue fugitives for the crimes they commit, not for the gender or race they represent,” McPherson said.

On another matter, Morton said some immigration cases had been dismissed when they involved people who were eligible for an immigration benefit like asylum, a green card or were married to an American citizen.

“It’s a waste of government resources to pursue an immigration removal proceeding against somebody who’s likely going to be granted a benefit to stay in the country,” he said.

Morton said a review of such cases was going on nationwide. He dismissed the suggestion that dismissing them was any type of backdoor amnesty.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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