, WASHINGTON, Mar 24 – US authorities have arrested 130 foreign nationals with criminal records and another eight fugitives in a three-day sweep in the state of Virginia, officials said Wednesday.
The prior convictions against those arrested — many of whom are legally in the United States — include rape, assault, burglary and drug possession, according to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Of those arrested, at least 32 nations were represented, including countries in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Africa.
Those who will not be prosecuted on new charges will be deported.
The United States welcomes immigrants "with open arms," said ICE director John Morton in a statement.
But "for those who come here unlawfully and commit crimes at the expense of their neighbors and their communities, we will not rest until we find you and send you home," he added.
Three of the people arrested had already been deported and came back illegally, ICE said.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell applauded the authorities\’ efforts to "safeguard" communities in his state, which borders the US capital Washington.
"Despite the legal permanent resident status of some of these individuals, their crimes clearly violated the conditions allowing them to legitimately remain in this country. Removing them from our neighborhoods prevents them from victimizing our Virginia residents and businesses again," he said.
Of the nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants deported by the United States in fiscal year 2010, some 195,000 had criminal records, according to ICE figures.
Amid a simmering national debate over immigration in the United States, the administration of President Barack Obama has made it a priority to deport foreign nationals who pose a danger to society.