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," multiple law enforcement officials confirmed Friday.
Some 100 agents will be sent to assist the ICE deportation force, the official said.
"ICE does not have sufficient resources to effectively manage the sustained increase in non-detained cases which is exacerbated by the rise of sanctuary jurisdictions," according to a Department of Homeland Security statement.
As the number of unauthorized border crossings continue to decline, the new deployments indicate a shift in Homeland Security’s enforcement measures to the interior of the U.S. and the front lines of the sanctuary city debate.
Such a move wouldn’t have been possible this time last year, when it was Border Patrol asking ICE for extra help to detain migrants at the southern border, according to a senior Border Patrol official.
"As we have noted for years, in jurisdictions where we are not allowed to assume custody of aliens from jails, our officers are forced to make at-large arrests of criminal aliens who have been released into communities," Matthew Albence. the acting director of ICE, said in a statement. "This effort requires a significant amount of additional time and resources."
DHS, the agency responsible for the nation's immigration enforcement, recently suspended security pre-clearance programs for international travelers in New York, pointing to a recently passed state law that limits access to the DMV database there.
"This administration seems to think they can intimidate local law enforcement officials or act independently when operating in their jurisdictions," said John Cohen, a former senior DHS official and ABC News contributor. "That is a dangerous strategy that will fail."
The move comes as federal law enforcement officials also report significant increases in cross-border drug trafficking, raising concerns about moving agents away from international check points.
Border Patrol agents have seized some 204 pounds of fentanyl since October 2019 -- nearly the same amount was confiscated in the entire previous year.
The news of the deployments was first reported by the New York Times on Friday.