Intensifying enforcement in sanctuary cities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has begun 24-hour-a-day surveillance operations around the homes and workplaces of undocumented immigrants, the New York Times reports. The agency plans to deploy hundreds of additional officers in unmarked cars to increase arrests in cities where local law enforcement agencies do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. ICE leadership has requested at least 500 special agents who normally conduct long-term investigations into dangerous criminals and traffickers to join the enhanced arrest campaign. The request follows an earlier decision to deploy elite tactical BORTAC agents — immigration SWAT teams that are normally assigned to risky border smuggling, rescue and intelligence operations — to help arrest and deport immigrants in sanctuary cities.
The expanded surveillance operations intensifies a conflict between the Trump administration and cities that refuse to help with deportations, including Boston, New York, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New Orleans and Newark. The initiative is called Operation Palladium. The latest directive is simple: Arrest as many undocumented immigrants as possible, and “flood the streets,” as one official involved said his bosses put it. The Trump administration has withheld certain federal funds from sanctuary jurisdictions–a trend the President said Thursday would increase– and filed lawsuits over sanctuary policies against state and local governments in California, New Jersey and Washington State. Because immigration law violations are civil infractions, the officers deployed in the expanded ICE operations cannot, in most cases, obtain warrants to forcibly enter places where their subjects are hiding. ICE officers are closely watching some people more than 12 hours a day in the hopes of arresting them outside their homes or workplaces. Officers are working longer hours, and for longer stretches of time, often 10 days in a row rather than the usual five.