The Trump administration is sending law enforcement tactical units from the southern border as part of an expanded arrest operation in sanctuary cities, an escalation in the president’s battle against localities that refuse to participate in immigration enforcement, the New York Times reports. The specially trained officers are being sent to cities including Chicago and New York to boost the enforcement power of local Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. Agents are expected to be sent to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit and Newark, N.J. The move reflects President Donald Trump’s persistence in cracking down on localities that have refused to cooperate in handing over immigrants targeted for deportation to federal authorities. Lawrence Payne, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, said the agency was deploying 100 officers to work with ICE “to enhance the integrity of the immigration system, protect public safety, and strengthen our national security.” The teams’ deployment will run from February through May.
Among the agents being deployed are members of the elite tactical unit BORTAC, which acts as the Border Patrol’s SWAT team. With gear such as stun grenades and Special Forces-type training, including sniper certification, the officers conduct high-risk operations targeting violent individuals, many with extensive criminal records. The unit’s work often takes place in the most rugged and hot areas of the border. It can involve breaking into stash houses of smuggling operations that are filled with drugs and weapons. In sanctuary cities, BORTAC agents will support run-of-the-mill immigration arrests. Former CBP commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said sending the officers to conduct immigration enforcement within cities, where they are not trained to work, could escalate volatile situations. He called the move a “significant mistake.”