The United States to officially become a police state.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents are being deployed in cities across the country to "support interior immigration enforcement," according to CNN. CBP is expected to deploy 100 agents to Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit and Newark, New Jersey. The deployment is planned to run from February through May of 2020.
This unprecedented use of border agents to patrol the interior of the country was first reported by The New York Times. This is the most recent escalation in the ongoing battle between the Trump administration and the "sanctuary cities."
President Trump did not coin this term, it existed many years before he took office or anyone even considered the possibility that Trump would ever have any influence over immigration policy. Sanctuary cities are largely misunderstood and that's because politicians and media figures have, for years now, been using alarming rhetoric when they speak about sanctuary cities while pandering for votes or ratings. People who want to demonize these cities make claims that these cities flout US immigration law and provide illegal immigrants sanctuary from the federal government.
These so-called sanctuary cities are not providing illegal immigrants protection from from the federal government or immunity from federal immigration laws. These cities have simply limited their cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the other immigration authorities under its umbrella.
The immigration laws are still very much enforced in these cities. New York City, for examples, has one of the busiest immigration courts in the country with a massive backlog of deportation cases even adding nearly a dozen immigration judges, adding court rooms to the federal building on Varick Street and adding a third makeshift immigration court location at 290 Broadway across the street from the primary immigration court at 26 Federal Plaza. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants go through the immigration courts in NYC, tens of thousands of immigrants are taken into ICE custody (though they are usually held in detention centers out of state after they are processed), tens of thousands are ordered removed, and ICE actually has flights that leave from NYC with groups of immigrants being physically removed from the country. It's impossible to claim NYC is a sanctuary for illegal immigrants.
Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Matthew Albence gave a statement, "ICE is utilizing CBP to supplement enforcement activity in response to the resource challenges stemming from sanctuary city policies."
It is strange because there is another government agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which already enforces immigration law in the interior regions of the US. The distinction between ICE and CBP is that the later operates at the border and ports of entry, as the name implies. It's unclear why CBP agents would be used for this effort rather than additional ICE agents.
The use of border agents in this manner really speaks to the underlying political motivations of the administration. It is an election year. Trump got a boost from the Senate Democrats failed impeachment attempt. He seems to be capitalizing on that boost, trying to tighten his grip on those swing state voters and rally his base by playing the America first card.
The Democratic party, surprisingly, has not presented a candidate that would be able to dethrone Trump. Thus far in the primaries there is no clear front-runner and each state has come down to a handful of votes. Democratic candidates are spending millions of dollars attacking each other right now but eventually all that effort will be combined with the sole goal of defeating Trump in the general election in November.
President Trump knows that he will be facing a tremendous battle in the general election. It is safe to assume that he will continue to ramp up immigration enforcement and push stricter immigration policy in the coming months in anticipation of the election.
Trump will want to tout his increased immigration enforcement and recent changes to immigration policy (like the Public Charge Policy) as successes of his first term.
Immigration is always an area where a presidential candidate can get votes. It seems Trump is doubling down on the anti-immigrant policies that helped get him into office.