Federal immigration authorities carrying out raids in Atlanta region

Federal immigration authorities have started carrying out raids in the Atlanta region as part of a nationwide crackdown targeting Central Americans who have illegally entered the U.S., advocates said Monday.

It’s unknown precisely how many people were detained over the weekend, though news reports say similar raids targeting hundreds of others have started in Texas and are planned for different parts of the country.

The crackdown comes amid an increase of Central Americans — families and unaccompanied children and teens — surging across the southwest border. Many are fleeing deprivation and gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment other than to outline the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement priorities.

“Attempting to unlawfully enter the United States as a family unit does not protect individuals from being subject to the immigration laws of this country,” ICE said in a prepared statement. “ICE will continue to pursue the removal of persons who fall within DHS immigration enforcement priorities, including families who are recent unlawful border crossers and who are subject to final orders of removal.”