The Trump administration is sending officers from a special operations unit of the Border Patrol to assist in raids by Immigration Customs and Enforcement in so-called sanctuary cities.
The officers from BORTAC, the Border Patrol’s version of a SWAT unit, will deploy to New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and various other cities whose local governments forbid law enforcement from working with federal immigration officials, the New York Times reported on Friday. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lawrence Payne confirmed the initiative.
BORTAC officers will be deployed “in order to enhance the integrity of the immigration system, protect public safety, and strengthen our national security,” Payne said.
“As we have noted for years, in jurisdictions where we are not allowed to assume custody of aliens from jails, our officers are forced to make at-large arrests of criminal aliens who have been released into communities,” ICE acting director Matthew T. Albence said in a statement. “When sanctuary cities release these criminals back to the street, it increases the occurrence of preventable crimes, and more importantly, preventable victims.”
BORTAC usually operates in hot, rugged areas along the U.S.-Mexico border and specializes in capturing criminals and cracking down on smuggling operations. While embedded with ICE in sanctuary cities, BORTAC officers will engage in more run-of-the-mill arrests.
The news comes after Attorney General William Barr announced Monday that the Justice Department would begin a “significant escalation” against sanctuary cities. Barr said the department would move to file lawsuits against sanctuary cities and locales that actively impede federal immigration enforcement.