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Federal immigration officials say 50 people were arrested in Massachusetts as part of a nationwide sweep focusing on what they called "sanctuary" jurisdictions, which limit local authorities' cooperation in immigration investigations.
"This is what we do on a daily basis," said Matthew Albence, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "This just happened to be a concerted effort to target those locations where we don't get the cooperation from those agencies. We need to put additional resources into these locations to make these arrests."
In a news release Thursday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said that the four-day operation netted 498 people wanted for immigration violations. Of those, 317 had criminal convictions. Of the 50 arrested in Massachusetts, 30 had criminal records.
The release says a citizen of India who was convicted of indecent assault was arrested in Boston.
A Boston police spokeswoman tells the Boston Globe that the department was notified of a criminal operation, but had "very limited" involvement, if any.
ICE acting Director Tom Homan said local policies of non-cooperation create magnets for illegal immigration, forcing the agency to use more resources in those communities.
On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts issued a statement criticizing the roundup.
"Attempts to bully state and local law enforcement into violating the constitution is no way to build cooperation between local, state, and federal government," Carol Rose, the ACLU of Massachusetts' executive director, said in the statement.
With reporting by WBUR's Newscast Unit and the Associated Press