NEWARK — Federal immigration officials in the state have arrested a dozen more immigrants who were in the country illegally, saying their latest busts include repeat immigration offenders and people with serious criminal records.

The latest arrests add to the hundreds that ICE has made in New Jersey alone since the state announced its sanctuary state rules limiting local law enforcement and jail cooperation with federal civil immigration cases.

Immigration advocates and critics of the Trump administration's immigration policies have said Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have been targeting harmless immigration violators, causing pain to families and neighborhoods. But John Tsoukaris, the Newark field director for the arm of ICE that handles arrests and deportations, said the latest arrests show that ICE is focused on "public safety threats."

“The vast majority of the individuals targeted in this effort have criminal offenses in addition to their immigration violations, making them among the highest priority for enforcement," Tsoukaris said this week.

The 13 arrested included a citizen of El Salvador with convictions for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; a citizen of Ecuador facing charges of domestic violence assault; a citizen of Jamaica with a record of a firearms offense; and a citizen of Mexico with two DWI convictions and an unresolved charge of domestic violence.

A federal immigration judge has ordered these four to be deported, ICE said. Others are in custody awaiting hearings.

Last year, ICE made nearly 156,000 arrests, saying that 90% of the detainees had criminal convictions while 66% faced new criminal charges. The agency also deported more than 256,000 immigrants, including nearly 6,000 suspected gangsters or terrorists. Nearly 60% of those deported had criminal convictions, ICE said.

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