Recent raids targeting illegal immigrants in sanctuary cities are a concerted effort to bully those localities to change their policy of not cooperating with ICE, according to an anonymous immigration official who spoke to CNN.

The anonymous immigration official indicated high-ranking officials at ICE discussed increasing operations in self-declared sanctuary cities, which have policies that limit or prohibit cooperation with ICE.

US Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin suggested that an ICE operation in the Austin metro area in mid-February was conducted in retaliation for the Travis County Sheriff’s recent decision to limit her department’s cooperation with ICE.

“There’s been questions about whether Austin is being targeted. We had a briefing…. that we could expect a big operation, agents coming in from out of town,” he said. “There was going to be a specific operation, and it was at least related to us in that meeting that it was a result of the sheriff’s new policy that this was going to happen.”

“My understanding, what was told to us, is that one of the reasons that happened was because the meetings that had occurred between the (ICE) field office director and the sheriff didn’t go very well.”

According to a representative from a pro-immigrant organization, during a meeting between ICE and some non-governmental organizations held shortly after the operation in Austin took place, pro-amnesty advocates were told that if ICE agents were not going to be granted access to local jails, they would be compelled to carry out apprehensions in other public places or homes.

ICE and immigration-related organizations have held regular meetings since 2003.

The Trump administration recently ordered the release of a report detailing the localities which refused to cooperate with ICE, and the charges the individuals in question were facing or convicted of; ironically, Travis County was the worst offender on the list, releasing 142 illegal immigrants.

ICE denied the operations were conducted in direct retaliation for the county’s sanctuary policy, arguing the county’s decision to not cooperate with ICE necessitates increased enforcement activity to maintain public safety.

“Rumors and reports that recent ICE operations are specifically targeting Travis County, Texas, apart from normal operations, are inaccurate,” read the statement, which added that “more ICE operational activity is required to conduct at-large arrests in any law enforcement jurisdiction that fails to honor ICE immigration detainers.”

“ICE regularly conducts targeted enforcement operations across the country to enhance public safety and national security, and to ensure the integrity of our nation’s immigration system,” the statement continued. “Our enforcement actions are not random and target specific violators based on prior intelligence.”

It is logical that ICE would conduct more operations in self-declared sanctuary cities, given recent reports that indicate something most people would view as common sense – illegal immigrants are increasingly congregating in sanctuary cities.

Nearly 60 percent of the country’s 11.1 million illegal immigrants live in just 20 major metropolitan areas, with the largest populations in New York, Los Angeles and Houston, according to a report released by the Pew Research Center.

The seven major sanctuary cities included on the list, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco, account for nearly 10 percent of the country’s total estimated population of illegal immigrants.

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