Border Patrol deploys elite tactical agents to Boston, other sanctuary cities
The Trump administration is redirecting agents from a specially trained Border Patrol unit to help ramp up arrests and removals of undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities, including Boston, multiple law enforcement officials confirmed to ABC News.
The New York Times reported that the deployment of the teams will run from now through May.
Besides Boston, other targeted cities include San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, New Orleans, Detroit and Newark, New Jersey.
A statement from the Department of Homeland Security said the Customs and Border Protection agents and officers who are being detailed to help ICE come from a number of different sectors and job positions. “While some of them are trained in tactical operations, that is one of the many areas of training,” the agency said.
The Times reported that among the agents being deployed to sanctuary cities are members of the elite tactical unit known as the Border Patrol Tactical Unit, which acts essentially as the SWAT team of the Border Patrol.
The newspaper said the unit’s work often takes place in the most rugged and swelteringly hot areas of the border, but in this case, agents will be asked to support interior officers in run-of-the-mill immigration arrests.
“These officers have also been trained in routine immigration enforcement actions which is what they have been asked to do,” the Department of Homeland Security said.
Multiple cities and towns in Massachusetts, including Boston, Somerville, Cambridge, Newton, Concord, Lawrence, Amherst and Northampton have passed sanctuary city ordinances while others have declined to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
Boston mayor Marty Walsh released a statement Friday night reacting to the decision by the Trump administration:
“Boston is one of the safest cities in America, proving every day that it’s possible to decrease crime while being a city that is welcoming to everyone. 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. 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.”
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who represents the 7th Congressional District which includes roughly three-fourths of the city of Boston and a few of its northern and southern suburbs, also released a statement:
“Let us be clear, this move has nothing to do with public safety, but rather serves only to further the Trump Administration’s agenda to intimidate and retaliate against cities that uphold the dignity and humanity of our immigrant neighbors. We will not stand for this. Where this administration chooses cruelty, the City of Boston will choose compassion. We will do everything in our power to affirm the safety and humanity of our immigrant neighbors. I call on each of my colleagues in government in the City of Boston and targeted cities across the nation to affirm that we will not comply or cooperate with this abuse of power from the Trump Administration. We know our communities are made stronger by our immigrant neighbors and we will not turn our back on them in this time of persecution.”
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins released a lengthy statement on the issue:
“Deploying militarized units into neighborhoods creates even greater fear and disorder and significantly harms relationships that local law enforcement agencies and public officials have worked so hard to build and foster. Don’t be fooled. None of this makes us safer. This is being done to strike fear and terror throughout our immigrant communities. This is being done to be cruel and to silence and terrorize people. This is being done to limit the number of people that partake in the 2020 census.
It’s challenging enough for any member of our community to come forward to law enforcement when they have been a victim or witness to a crime. For our undocumented brothers and sisters, there is also a real and constant fear of deportation that prevents far too many from even considering getting involved. When individuals are too frightened to speak with police and prosecutors, to show up in court to provide testimony, to seek the protection of the law, or to have their day in court, we are all less safe. As a result, prosecutors are unable to hold individuals accountable for serious and violent offenses, victims of violence continue to live in fear, and the services and protections afforded by our courts are out of reach for some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.
The outrageous actions of this President do not make our nation or our local communities safer. I am so proud to have joined and pushed the 2019 legal actions filed against Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As a result, a federal judge granted our request for a preliminary injunction barring civil arrests in the public and surrounding areas of our state courts. Now, Massachusetts is the only state in the entire country that affords our immigrant brothers and sisters this protection, which they so rightfully deserve.”