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Trump administration to deploy Border Patrol officers to sanctuary cities

This comes as the administration has repeatedly targeted sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with immigration enforcement authorities.
Agents with the U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit hold weapons from a armored vehicle ahead of exercises in Mission, Texas
Agents with the U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) hold their weapons next to an armored vehicle ahead of exercises in Mission, Texas, on Nov. 8, 2018.Adrees Latif / Reuters file

The Trump administration will deploy 100 tactical Border Patrol officers to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 10 so-called sanctuary cities across the nation, a senior official with the Department of Homeland Security said Friday.

The decision to deploy the officers comes after the administration has recently repeatedly targeted sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with immigration enforcement authorities.

The Customs and Border Protection officers were being sent to work with ICE in those cities from February to May to “enhance integrity of the immigration system, protect public safety, and strengthen our national security,” the official said.

CBP typically detains people along the border, at airports and ports of entry, and has broader authority when operating within 100 miles of a U.S. border, while ICE conducts immigration arrests in the rest of the country.

Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence said in statement that in "jurisdictions where we are not allowed to assume custody" of immigrants from jail, their immigration officers were "forced to make at-large arrests" of immigrants who had been "released into communities."

“When sanctuary cities release these criminals back to the street, it increases the occurrence of preventable crimes, and more importantly, preventable victims," he said.

A senior DHS official said the cities targeted in the deployment were New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit and Newark, New Jersey. The deployment will run from February to May, according to the official.

News of the deployment was first reported by The New York Times.

A DHS official said that CBP agents and officers in the deployment come from different sectors and that some have been trained in tactical operations.

Earlier this week, the Trump administration sued New Jersey and the county in Washington state that encompasses Seattle, claiming their governments are flouting federal immigration law through local sanctuary policies.

The suit against New Jersey represented the first time the federal government has sued a state over its policy of limiting assistance to federal immigration authorities.

The Justice Department was also seeking to halt a recent local policy in King County, Washington's most populous county, which prevents ICE from using a county airport for deportation flights.

That announcement came a week after the administration announced that it was suspending enrollment in Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler Programs for New Yorkers. A day earlier, on Feb. 4, Trump criticized "New York's sanctuary policies" in his State of the Union address.

Naureen Shah, a senior policy and advocacy counsel on immigrants’ rights at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement that the deployment decision was "retaliation against local governments for refusing to do the administration’s bidding."

"It will put lives at risk by further militarizing our streets," Shah said. "Local governments should not face reprisals for focusing on community needs and using taxpayer money responsibly, instead of helping to deport and detain community members."

"For three years, the administration has systematically empowered and expanded Customs and Border Protection’s authority, including by ramping up CBP’s budget," she said. "Now, far beyond the border, CBP agents are attempting to circumvent local law enforcement to police the nation with zero accountability. Deploying CBP agents into cities is a dangerous and wasteful use of resources that primarily harms communities of color."