With Trump Administration Sending Elite Tactical Units to Sanctuary Cities, Here’s What You Should Know

The Trump administration is amping up its war against immigrants. Law enforcement tactical units will be deployed in sanctuary cities around the country to help expand the enforcement power of local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

President Donald Trump has made concerted efforts to crack down on cities and states that refuse to cooperate with ICE for deportations. The decision to deploy tactical units comes on the heels of the administration’s announcement that New Yorkers will no longer be allowed to participate in Global Entry, which allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers to get expedited clearance through some airports when arriving in the U.S.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will deploy 100 officers to aid ICE “in order to enhance the integrity of the immigration system, protect public safety, and strengthen our national security,” spokesman Lawrence Payne told The New York Times. Officers are expected to be deployed to Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit and Newark, New Jersey.

The deployment will be done from February through May. It is expected to include members of the elite tactical unit BORTAC, which acts as Border Patrol’s own SWAT team. Members of this elite tactical force undergo training similar to Army Rangers or Special Forces, New York Times reporter Caitlin Dickerson told PBS’ Hari Sreenivasan.

This unit is deployed within the U.S. and internationally, Dickerson explained. Americans witnessed BORTAC, guns at the ready, yank Cuban boy Elián Gonzalez from his uncle’s arms in 2000 to deport him.

“This is transparent retaliation against local governments for refusing to do the administration’s bidding. It will put lives at risk by further militarizing our streets,” Naureen Shah, senior policy and advocacy counsel on immigrants’ rights for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said in a statement.

Shah continued: “Local governments should not face reprisals for focusing on local community needs and using taxpayer money responsibly, instead of helping to deport and detain community members.”

How Sanctuary Cities Have Responded

Several sanctuary cities have also responded to the news that tactical units will be deployed.

“[Donald Trump] is abusing his office AGAIN,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted on February 16. “Sending Border Patrol units into our city isn’t about anyone’s safety. It’s about Trump pandering to his base in an election year.”

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who has criticized the Trump administration over its immigration policies in the past, said Boston is a prime example of being a safe city that is welcoming to all.

“What we need – and have needed for a long time – is a sound, rational national immigration policy rooted in both compassion and common sense. Never forget that at the root of this issue are human beings,” Walsh tweeted. “All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Policies aimed at sowing division and fear are ultimately counterproductive and harmful not merely to the families and individuals who are targeted but to the broader community of which we are all a part.”

On the West Coast, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made sure to let the undocumented members of the community have the city’s support.

“Regardless of your immigration status, I want every Angeleno to know your city is on your side. Here in Los Angeles, our police department does not coordinate with ICE or participate in immigration enforcement,” he tweeted.

New York and Los Angeles also released resources for their residents to know their rights when confronted by immigration enforcement.

Know Your Rights

The ACLU, along with several sanctuary cities and immigrant organizations, have released Know Your Rights resources for undocumented immigrants and members of the community who want to help their undocumented neighbors or loved ones.

One of the most important things to remember if you are stopped by police or ICE, or if you’re asked about your immigration status is to stay calm and don’t run, argue, resist or obstruct an officer. You should keep your hands where officers can see them and not lie about your status or provide false documents, the ACLU says.

  • Even if you are not a U.S. citizen, you have the right to remain silent and do not have to discuss your immigration or citizenship status with police, immigration agents or other officials. Know that anything you say to an officer can be used against you later in immigration court.

  • For non-citizens, if an immigration agent requests your immigration papers, you must show them if you have them on you.

  • You have the right to refuse a search by an immigration agent. You and your belongings cannot be searched if an agent does not have your consent or probable cause.

  • Those over 18 must carry your immigration papers with you at all times.

  • If you are detained by ICE, you have the right to consult with an attorney but the government does not have to provide one for you.

The ACLU recommends anyone arrested or detained by ICE remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Those detained or arrested by ICE have a right to contact their consulate or have an officer inform the consulate of your detention.

A full list of resources and rights in various languages can be found here.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.