The government of Donald Trump is sending elite agents who usually work on the Mexican border to big cities like New York and Chicago, as part of a large secret operation to arrest undocumented migrants, The New York Times reported Friday.

According to the newspaper, which quotes two officials who know about the secret operation, it is expected that these agents will also be deployed in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit and Newark.

According to the newspaper, this is the latest move by the Trump Administration in its battle against the so-called “sanctuary cities,” places where local authorities refuse to cooperate with federal authorities in finding and deporting undocumented immigrants.

A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed to the Times that the agency will deploy 100 agents to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency that is responsible for capturing migrants inside the country for deportation.

The deployment will take place from February to May, according to an internal e-mail seen by the newspaper, which states that the agents will include members of a special Border Patrol group known as BORTAC.

These tactical units, which operate on the southern border, are commonly used in high-risk operations against violent individuals and criminal and drug-trafficking groups.

The agents are provided with special equipment and training, including training as snipers. In the “sanctuary cities,” their job will be to support ICE partners in their regular operations.

According to the newspaper’s report, the deployment is a response to policies adopted by those locations that ICE says are making its personnel’s work more difficult.

Trump’s government is currently in a tough standoff with cities like New York over this issue and in recent weeks has taken steps to pressure local authorities to cooperate.

For former CBP chief Gil Kerlikowske, the decision to use BORTAC is a “significant mistake” because these agents are not used to working in cities and can lead to violent situations”.

“If you’re a police chief and you’re going to make an arrest for a relatively minor crime, you don’t send a SWAT team,” Kerlikowske told the Times in reference to police special forces.

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