- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2016

Immigration authorities have arrested 336 immigrants since launching an effort Jan. 23 to deport those in the U.S. illegally, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Most of those arrested for removal from the country are young people who crossed the U.S. border without their parents since 2014 and have since been ordered to be deported by immigration courts, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“As I have said repeatedly, our borders are not open to illegal migration,” Mr. Johnson said. “If someone was apprehended at the border, has been ordered removed by an immigration court, has no pending appeal and does not qualify for asylum or other relief from removal under our laws, he or she must be sent home.”

Immigration raids that kicked off in January infuriated immigrant-rights advocates, who said the efforts spread fear throughout the Hispanic community. Many of those arrested in early January raids were women and their children.

Mr. Johnson has emphasized that authorities try to avoid arresting individuals for deportation at sensitive locations such as places of worship, schools or doctor’s offices.

Data released by DHS also showed that the number of migrants apprehended while trying to cross the border into the U.S. increased slightly from 23,761 caught in January to 26,078 caught in February. The number of those apprehended last month remains below the swell of 37,014 migrants caught along the border in December. Mr. Johnson noted that the number of unaccompanied minors and family members remained stagnant after decreases from December.

The surge of children, which began in earnest in 2014, has embarrassed the Obama administration, catching both Homeland Security and the Health and Human Services Department off guard. Border Patrol agents were overwhelmed with apprehending the illegal immigrants, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents struggled to process and deport the families, and social workers at HHS struggled to house the children.

Since October, immigration authorities have returned 28,808 individuals to Central America and approximately 128,000 to Mexico.

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