Nearly 300 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions were arrested last week in Texas, the Dallas Morning News reports. The largest number of arrests, 119, were in North Texas. According to the article:

Of the total, about half of the immigrants had convictions for violent crimes or drug offenses. Most of the crimes were committed in the United States, authorities said.

The arrests, though, raises questions about why the immigrants hadn’t been deported earlier, immediately after they’d served their time for criminal convictions.

A new program, called Secure Communities, seeks to link jail staff with federal data banks to ensure that those with criminal convictions are removed from the country. There are only 110 jail locations in the country that now use the program.

Secure Communities has come under scrutiny for the relatively low number of persons caught who have been convicted of violent crimes – or what’s known in ICE as a “level one” offense.

Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Irving, Mesquite and Dallas and Denton counties are among the jurisdictions using Secure Communities processes. The program began in November 2008.