WASHINGTON, DC — Federal agents who patrol the U.S. border will deploy to “sanctuary” cities across the country where local jurisdictions are hindering stepped up immigration enforcement, officials said late Friday.
The deployment of Customs and Border Patrol agents, some with tactical training, to the interior of the country is unusual and represents another escalation in the confrontation between the Trump administration and the local jurisdictions that have set up roadblocks to immigration enforcement.
Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence said additional forces are needed because people without legal authorization to be in the country are being released from local jails in sanctuary cities and counties before his agents can take them into custody.
ICE then has to make “at large arrests” of these immigrants who have been released, Albence said in a statement announcing the move.
“This effort requires a significant amount of additional time and resources,” he said. “When sanctuary cities release these criminals back to the street, it increases the occurrence of preventable crimes, and more importantly, preventable victims.”
The acting director did not disclose when or where the agents would be deployed but an official, speaking on condition of anonymity to disclose details not provided in the statement, said they would include major sanctuary cities such as San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston and Detroit.
Albence also did not provide details on the specific types of agents being deployed, but the official said they would come from varied U.S. locations and would include officers with tactical training that is typically intended to prepare them for potential confrontations with traffickers and other criminals.
Immigrant advocates dismissed the deployment as a political move by President Donald Trump to excite anti-immigration elements among his supporters and intimidate communities that have adopted sanctuary policies to ensure people cooperate with local law enforcement regardless of whether they are in the country illegally or not.
“Deploying elite SWAT-like units to American cities is dangerous,” said Naureen Shah of the American Civil Liberties Union. “This is about further militarizing streets.”
Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, said she was concerned about use of the military-like Border Patrol Tactical Unit in a civilian setting.
“We could see CBP officers who aren’t trained for interior immigration enforcement using excessive force, emboldening ICE agents to do the same and escalating situations,” she said.