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Democrats Fight Back After DHS Doubles Down on Sanctuary Cities

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Last week, the Trump administration shook the immigrant community when they announced that they would be deploying elite law enforcement groups to sanctuary cities across the border in an effort to increase the arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants. Now, top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are retaliating and demanding answers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

In response to the reports, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations Chairwoman Kathleen M. Rice (D-NY) sent a letter to DHS Secretary Chad Wolf condemning his decision and demanding further briefing on the operation. 

“We write to express our deep concern regarding the deployment of U.S. Border Patrol agents, including members of the elite Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC), to targeted cities around the country to conduct interior enforcement activities in conjunction with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),”  they wrote. 

They went on to explain that BORTAC teams are trained for dangerous missions and to respond to emerging and high-risk events that require specialized skills and tactics. BORTAC teams are typically used in events like the Super Bowl, where a lot of people are in one area together, and in natural disaster areas to ensure that civil unrest does not occur.

“[…] this appears to be yet another retaliatory move aimed at cities that have opted to implement immigration policies with which the Administration does not agree,” they wrote. “Tactics such as these, which appear to be politically motivated and not grounded in national security, are unacceptable and do nothing more than punish residents and instill fear in communities.”

In addition, the Democrats requested a “full briefing” on the operation within the next week, as well as a detailed plan of action including a list of cities of where BORTAC units have been and will be deployed, emails between the DHS and ICE officials, among other things. They added that they expected this information to be provided to them by March 2nd. 

“The Committees have serious concerns over the utility of engaging these highly militarized units, which were never intended for routine immigration enforcement activities, in densely populated metropolitan areas,” the letter said. “Moreover, the Committees note that taking teams intended to carry out missions like disrupting drug cartels at the border away from the border is a misuse of specialized resources, not to mention inconsistent with the President’s own recent extension of his border emergency declaration.”  

The letter comes after the Trump administration announced that it would be sending a 100 of this agents to sanctuary cities like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago to aid the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the deportation of undocumented immigrants. The administration has been adamant on their rejection of such cities, who limit their cooperation with federal authorities in order to protect immigrants. 

“Again, in these sanctuary cities, they provide no resources to help us do our mission,” Wolf told Fox News’s ‘Fox & Friends’. “Should they decide to honor detainers and help ICE, we would not have to call in these additional resources.”

However, sanctuary cities are unlikely to go down without a fight. In a statement released Friday afternoon, LAPD Chief Michel Moore wrote, “LAPD has received no information from ICE regarding any special deployments in the Los Angeles region.

“Consistent with our long-standing practices, we have not and will not participate in any immigration enforcement activities. We continue our work building relationships with all immigrant communities in our shared effort to keep Los Angeles safe.”

Alexandra Tirado Oropeza is a Venezuelan journalist covering politics, immigration, entertainment and social justice. She moved to the U.S. in 2014 to pursue a Writing degree at The University of Tampa, and after graduating, she moved to Los Angeles where she works in broadcast and as a freelance writer. She’s passionate about equality, freedom of speech, art and dogs.