Feb. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 212 people in the Los Angeles area for violating immigration laws during a five-day targeted operation that ended Thursday.
The majority of those arrested, 88 percent, are convicted criminals, according to a report released Friday by ICE.
The reported highlighted the growing disagreement on immigration enforcement between the federal government and California, which is a self-described sanctuary state.
Thomas Homan, ICE deputy director, said because sanctuary cities prevent ICE from arresting undocumented immigrants in "the secure confines of a jail," officers are forced to conduct at-large arrests in the community, "putting officers, the general public and the aliens at greater risk."
"Fewer jail arrests mean more arrests on the street, and that also requires more resources, which is why we are forced to send additional resources to those areas to meet operational needs and officer safety," Homan said.
Of the arrested, 195 people are either convicted criminals, were previously issued a final order of removal and failed to depart the United States or had been removed from the United States and returned illegally, ICE said.
"More than 55 percent had prior felony convictions for serious or violent offenses, such as child sex crimes, weapons charges, and assault, or had past convictions for significant or multiple misdemeanors," according to the report.
Also during the sting, ICE special agents served 122 notices of inspection to businesses in the Los Angeles area, a process that requires businesses to provide employment eligibility information including an I-9 form within three business days. Businesses found not in compliance with the law face civil fines and potential criminal prosecution.
Last year, ICE conducted 1,360 I-9 audits and made 139 criminal arrests and 172 administrative arrests that led to businesses being ordered to pay $97.6 million in assets, fines and restitution and $7.8 million in civil fines.