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Immigration raid nets 54 in Utah; GOP, Dems laud action
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

There was a 51-year-old Mexican convicted of attempted sexual abuse of a minor and a 33-year-old Cambodian convicted of aggravated assault and theft.

Both were in West Valley City. Both were illegal immigrants. Both are now soon to be gone.

They joined 54 people swept up in Utah — and another 54 from three surrounding states — during a six-day national raid announced Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities. Nationally, the sweep netted more than 3,100 convicted criminals and fugitives.

ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley said the operation, dubbed "Cross Check," was part of the agency's commitment to removing the most dangerous criminals among those in the country illegally.

"If you have people who are convicted of serious violent crime, are threats to the community — sex offenders, those convicted of assault," Haley said, "obviously our neighborhoods are safer now that they won't be with us."

Of the 108 individuals taken into custody in the four states overseen by the ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations office in Salt Lake City, 82 had prior convictions for serious or violent crimes.

The four-state region comprises Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Montana.

Steven Branch, field office director for Enforcement and Removal Operations in the four states, said the latest raid saw more captures than two previous operations, in 2011.

"There's a lot of planning and a lot of work to develop leads and to see the targets we want to pursue," Branch said. "I don't want the perception of the community to be that we sit on cases and wait for these raids. Our guys are out there every day looking for criminals that pose threats to the community."

Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis said the crackdown illustrated that President Barack Obama has his priorities lined up with a pragmatic, "common-sense" approach toward illegal immigration.

"What the president is doing makes sense when you have a limited amount of resources," Dabakis said. "It's better they are going after the serious bad guys rather than those with parking violations. It's a policy that seems to me where virtually everyone agrees."

Nationally, the operation — the largest of its kind — involved more than 1,900 ICE agents. It was coordinated with federal, state and local law enforcement partners across the country.

Officers arrested 2,834 individuals with prior criminal convictions — including at least 1,063 with multiple criminal convictions for crimes including murder, terrorist threats, drug trafficking, kidnapping, child abuse and armed robbery.

Also among those arrested were 50 documented gang members.

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said the raid appeared to be successful, adding he was proud of the ICE agents. He even dished out some praise for the president.

"I don't mind giving the president kudos," Chaffetz said. "I wish he'd do more on the border, but the initial reports on this [raid] appear to be encouraging."

The raids caught fugitives who already had been ordered to leave the country but remained in the United States.

ICE officials said 559 of those picked up were illegal re-entrants who had been previously deported. In the four-state region including Utah, 36 of those arrested were previously removed and had returned to the United States illegally.

The first national "Cross Check" operation was in May, resulting in arrests of more than 2,400 criminals in the country illegally. Another "Cross Check" operation in September snagged more than 2,900 convicted criminals.

dmontero@sltrib.com

Twitter: @davemontero —

Utah arrestsin latest raid

Salt Lake County • 36

Utah County • 7

Weber County • 5

Davis County • 4

Box Elder County • 1

Summit County • 1

Source: U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement

Crackdown • "Cross Check" operation targets violent offenders in country illegally.
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