No Hay Fronteras en la Lucha de Los Obreros


Originally published in the Winter 2020 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 61, printed February 17. Reproduced here in for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Winter 2020 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post. For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.

Defying the vicious, anti-immigrant offensive of the Trump administration, a total of 182 U.S. cities, counties and states have declared themselves “sanctuary cities,” refusing to cooperate with federal immigration agents.

In response, the Department of Homeland Security is now planning to send Border Patrol “SWAT” teams to these jurisdictions to track down undocumented immigrants that benefit from policies forbidding local law enforcement from assisting the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, ICE.

Mira la Migra/ICE Watch: 804-453-2122

That assistance is usually in the form of a “detainer,” which is a request by ICE for local law enforcement to hold an individual who has a deportation order and is already in local custody until ICE can pick them up for deportation. Sanctuary cities obstruct ICE’s efforts by forbidding local police agencies from turning over undocumented immigrants in their custody to ICE.

DHS acting Secretary Chad Wolf, speaking on the online Full Court Press program, said Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) teams would be deployed to a number of sanctuary cities across the country.

“The issue that we have with sanctuary cities,” Wolf said, “ is instead of having one officer going in a jail setting and picking up an illegal alien (sic) who has a final order of removal, sanctuary cities don’t allow us to do that. They release that alien (sic) into the community and now we have to send a team of agents to go into the community, to knock on doors and try to locate an individual or a set of individuals.

“So, we need more than one or two officers to do that,” he continued. “So, as sanctuary cities continue to pop up, we continue to need more resources to go into these communities.”

BORTAC teams were created in 1984 to serve as response units following rebellions at legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service detention facilities.

The teams are also meant to have a “global response capability,” including taking part in “Operation Iraqi Freedom” – the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq – and “Operation Enduring Freedom,” the official U.S. government name for the endless war on terrorism.

Among the “intense training” BORTAC teams receive are “operational planning, advanced weapon skills, defensive tactics and airmobile operations.”

Great preparation for knocking on doors in immigrant neighborhoods.

Asked whether the DHS had any safety concerns about sending tactical teams out to do routine law enforcement, the DHS spokesperson said they had “no concerns.”

Cities where BORTAC agents are expected to be deployed to include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco, according to The New York Times, which cited two unnamed officials who are familiar with the operation.

Some of the cities are known as sanctuary cities, while others are barred from enforcing sanctuary laws because of state legislation.

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