US federal immigration agents have arrested nearly 200 people suspected of being in the country illegally during a five-day raid in the Los Angeles area in southern California.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement Thursday that 90 percent of the 188 people detained had prior criminal convictions, many for drug abuse and driving under the influence of alcohol.
The majority of those arrested in the fresh round of raids were male immigrants from Mexico.
The raids are seen as US President Donald Trump’s attempt to deliver on his campaign pledge of deporting as many as three million undocumented immigrants.
In a similar attempt, federal agents detained hundreds of undocumented immigrants in various states in February, a move that was strongly condemned by rights groups.
“We're actually taking people that are criminals, very, very, hardened criminals in some cases with a tremendous track record of abuse and problems,” Trump said in February.
Federal authorities say over 41,000 people have been arrested since the beginning of this year, a 40 percent increase compared to the same period in 2016.
ICE agents carry out such arrests. According to ICE, some of the detained immigrants had ignored deportation ultimatums.
Building a wall on the US-Mexico border to stop the influx of Hispanic migrants coming from Central America was a hallmark of Trump's presidential campaign.
Trump's first month in office was dominated by a battle over his temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries and harsh personal criticism of federal judges who blocked his immigration order.
The previous administration under Barack Obama also actively sought to deport immigrants. The efforts peaked in 2012, when 409,000 people were sent back to their countries. In 2015, ICE announced the arrests of more than 2,000 people nationwide in one week, based on their criminal record.