LOS ANGELES (AP) — More than 200 people were arrested for violating immigration laws and numerous businesses were told they would be audited during a five-day sweep in the Los Angeles area, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said Friday.

The raids triggered a protest late Thursday by a small group of immigrant advocates who prevented a Homeland Security van from moving outside the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles. Police issued a dispersal order but no one was arrested.

A statement from the agency said that 88 percent of the 212 people arrested in the sweep were convicted criminals. Some will be prosecuted for illegal entry or re-entry into the U.S. and others will be administratively processed for deportation, immediately removed or held for immigration court hearings.

During the operation, Homeland Security Investigations agents served notices on 122 businesses that they will be audited to determine if they are employing people who are in the country illegally. The audits can lead to civil fines or criminal prosecutions.

Similar audit notices were recently given to 77 Northern California businesses and about 100 7-Eleven stores in 17 states and the District of Columbia.


Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/