Story at a glance

  • ICE has requested more elite border patrol agents to help monitor undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities.
  • An email obtained by the New York Times calls for agents to “flood the streets” and arrest as many undocumented immigrants as possible in these locations.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has begun 24-hour daily surveillance operations near the homes and workplaces of undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities across the country, according to an exclusive New York Times report

A senior official with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told reporters in February that ICE would be deploying Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers to “enhance integrity of the immigration system, protect public safety, and strengthen our national security.”

The partnership was intended to assist ICE, which reportedly did not have enough resources to manage the increase in nondetailed cases increased by the rise of sanctuary jurisdictions. ICE reportedly requested approximately 500 special agents to assist in arrest efforts. 

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These agents, who normally work to stop criminal operations like border smuggling and violence, are requested to help ICE law enforcement arrest and deport illegal immigrants residing in sanctuary cities to compensate for state law enforcement that won’t enforce federal immigration policy. The CBP agents will move from working on criminal offenses to civil infractions.

Per the Times, this will be known as Operation Palladium, and it will last from February to December.

In the same email, the agents were ordered to “flood the streets” and arrest as many undocumented immigrants as possible. 

Speaking to The Hill, acting ICE Director Matthew Albence previously confirmed in a statement that increased surveillance, ICE agents and arrests will occur in "jurisdictions where we are not allowed to assume custody" of immigrants from jail, and that ICE 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 added. 

ICE and CBP agents will be working separately from local law enforcement to avoid overlapping and botched operations. 

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Some of the cities that will see an increase in ICE agents include Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, New Orleans and Newark, N.J.

Meanwhile, President Trump, who authorized Operation Palladium, said Thursday that his administration will start to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities, per a court ruling. 

Advocacy groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have condemned the initiative. Naureen Shah, a senior advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, told the Times back in February that Operation Palladium “is about further militarizing our streets,” and that the effects could be lethal. 

“We could see CBP officers who aren’t trained for interior enforcement using aggressive force,” Shah said. 

Published on Mar 05, 2020