If you or someone you love is an undocumented immigrant living in Los Angeles County, take heed: elite, heavily armed Border Patrol Tactical Units, or BORTAC teams, according to The New York Times, will soon be deployed to Sanctuary Cities, of which Pasadena is one, as are Los Angeles, San Francisco, and a host of others. In fact, California is a Sanctuary State, and has been since 2017.
Along with LA and San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit and Newark are also targeted for BORTAC raids, an effort to help officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, which has complained that they are unable to do their job due to a lack of cooperation from local authorities, which refuse to participate in any ICE operations.
As Gil Kerlikowske, former Customs and Border Patrol commissioner, told The Times, sending those officers to conduct immigration enforcement within cities a “significant mistake.”
“If you were a police chief and you were going to make an apprehension for a relatively minor offense, you don’t send the SWAT team. And BORTAC is the SWAT team,” the former Seattle police chief told reporters. “They’re trained for much more hazardous missions than this.”
So if not to catch criminals, why then would President Trump order something like this at this time?
News of impending deployment of BORTAC teams comes as the United States gears up for the 2020 Census. Trump wanted a citizenship question included in the decennial exercise aimed at allocating funds and apportioning representation in Congress, a demand which was rejected by three separate federal judges. The raids are expected to last from February to May, with the census set to begin in early April and end in late July.
Now virtual Army soldiers who are usually stationed at the border, airports and sea ports will be patrolling cities along with ICE agents in search of allegedly criminal immigrants. As The Times reported, the operation isn’t so much an effort to find criminals, but rather represents a “battle against localities that refuse to participate in immigration enforcement.”
One of those local law enforcement officials is LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who has vowed to not cooperate with ICE and campaigned on keeping immigration agents out of county jails. His position on this issue has not changed.
“I strongly oppose this irresponsible deployment of federal SWAT agents in Los Angeles County for civil immigration enforcement,” Villanueva told City News Service (CNS). “As the sheriff of Los Angeles County, I am responsible for everyone’s public safety regardless of immigration status. We are not any safer if an entire segment of our population is afraid to report crimes to local law enforcement.”
Villanueva told CNS that he reduced transferring inmates to ICE custody by 53 percent in 2019, and that serious crimes fell by 7 percent.
“This debunks the White House’s claim that (California’s sanctuary law) and similar laws throughout the nation will somehow lead to an increase in violent crime,” Villanueva said.
“We cannot allow the federal government to weaponize our immigration system for partisan politics. This poorly thought-out plan can only be seen as a tactic to intimidate an already vulnerable population and drive them deeper into the shadows.”
The question is, if crime is down enough to not to worry local law enforcement officials, why would something as drastic as this operation be happening now?
One answer might be it’s not an emergency at all but an insidious political and potentially deadly ploy, one in which immigrants are being used as pawns by an administration trying to control political outcomes and the vast amounts of money that flow from census counts.
As an NBC News editorial explains, “If the census goes wrong, hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of people will have their votes diluted or lose out on critical federal funds. When people are not counted, the government assumes the area needs fewer elected representatives and less resources for vital public services such as education and infrastructure. Unless something changes soon, the 2020 census could yield one of the largest undercounts of underrepresented communities in recent memory.
“Undercounting our communities will have damaging effects far beyond the next decade,” the editorial goes on. “Undercounted areas will likely lose critical funding for education, health care, housing and transportation — entrenching a cycle of financial and political disempowerment for communities of color nationwide.”
That’s what these insidious, despicable, outlandish raids are really about; keeping money and political power out of the hands of good people who need it the most.