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24 convicted illegal immigrants arrested in South Carolina

There were 24 convicted criminal undocumented immigrants arrested in South Carolina after a sweep last month. The sweep was part of a program led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to remove as many convicted aliens from the country as possible.

In mid-September, state and local law enforcement agencies worker with ICE in a seven-day operation called Cross Check. The sweep was conducted on a national level and led to 2,900 people being arrested in total. All of those arrested are said to be illegal foreign nationals who have been convicted of crimes in the United States.

ICE officials said that 681 of the people arrested were considered fugitives who had been ordered to leave the country but did not comply.

In South Carolina, authorities arrested a 36-year-old undocumented immigrant from Honduras who was convicted in 1998 of burglary and assault and battery against an official employee.

According to ICE, the man was also wanted in Florida on charges for first-degree murder, burglary, kidnapping and armed assault. The man, who was arrested in West Columbia, will be sent to Miami to face those charges.

In June, the director of ICE released a memo that said the agency would begin using prosecutorial discretion in deportation proceedings against undocumented workers. The memo said that ICE officials would be granted the authority "to decide to what degree to enforce the law against a particular individual" unless the person was a convicted criminal.

Since then, ICE has made clear that its biggest initiative is against undocumented workers who have been convicted of crimes and are considered to pose a threat, but other, non-criminal undocumented immigrants are also not safe from deportation and removal.

Of course, there is no more important time than now to apply for a visa or permanent citizenship in the United States.

Source: The State, "Immigration sweep nets 24, including West Columbia man," Sept. 29, 2011.

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