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Trump administration hypes immigration enforcement in key swing state ahead of election

October 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

US President Donald Trump delivers remarks on immigration and border security to members of the border patrol as Acting secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf (L) looks on at the international airport in Yuma, Arizona on August 18, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

When the idea of erecting billboards of immigration violators initially came up at least a year ago, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials didn't think much of it. The proposal was considered to be a low priority, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

In the run up to November 3, and with early voting already underway, ICE and the Department of Homeland Security are amplifying with speeches, news conferences and billboards a message that the Trump administration has spent the better part of four years pushing: criticizing jurisdictions that limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.

The administration's public actions on so-called "sanctuary cities" have taken on added significance as Trump ramps up his law-and-order campaign message, pulling in what should be apolitical law enforcement operations into a contentious presidential race.

"By driving ICE into this political gutter, you destroy its reputation," said John Sandweg, who served as acting ICE director under the Obama administration, underscoring the importance of relationships with local law enforcement.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf ardently defended the billboards during a news conference in Philadelphia on Friday as DHS and ICE touted the apprehension of over 170 people who are subject for deportation.

Initially, ICE had considered putting billboards up in multiple cities, but the first step was going to be Philadelphia, mainly for its proximity to DC, an ICE official told CNN.

"Sanctuary city residents should understand and continue to expect a more visible ICE presence in any jurisdiction covered by Operation Rise," he said.

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