Albuquerque mayor joins U.S. mayors denouncing federal law enforcement surge

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Mayors across the U.S. including Albuquerque are banding together to denounce the deployment of federal agents in cities targeted by the Trump administration. Mayors from Seattle, Portland, Oakland, and Philadelphia joined Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller in a telephone news conference Wednesday with mayors in part calling for Congressional intervention.

Wednesday’s denouncement comes a week after the Trump administration announced the expansion of the Department of Justice-lead “Operation Legend.” The DOJ is expected to send 35 federal agents to Albuquerque as part of the Operation which has been categorized by Attorney General William Barr as an effort to fight violent crime.

Despite those assurances from the federal authorities, Keller and other mayors are calling for the removal of what they call “unrequested federal law enforcement authorities.” The group is also urging Congress to intervene by passing legislation to block the mayors in part want congress to block the trump administration from doing it again.

Keller said during the news conference the City of Albuquerque was given no written notice about the expansion of Operation Legend. He says some city officials were given “a quick phone call” hours before President Trump’s announcement.

“The challenge has been normally we work together all the time, but it’s always through memorandums of understanding, through clear rules of the game and so forth,” Keller said. “And to have the President of the United States announce a program that didn’t have any of that behind it, in the context of what all the other mayors are saying is very concerning.”

The news conference Wednesday morning came within an hour of Oregon Governor Kate Brown announcing an agreement with White House and Department of Homeland Security officials to begin withdrawing federal law enforcement officers from downtown Portland. The Trump administration sent a surge of federal officers to Portland in early June after weeks of protest in front of the federal Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse.

“After my discussions with VP Pence and others, the federal government has agreed to withdraw federal officers from Portland,” Oregon Governor Kate Brown tweeted Wednesday morning. “They have acted as an occupying force & brought violence. Starting tomorrow, all Customs and Border Protection & ICE officers will leave downtown Portland.”

Federal officials contend their response in Portland is different from the planned federal law enforcement surge under Operation Legend. Mayor Tim Keller says the city of Albuquerque is prepared to sue the federal government to intervene against its actions, if necessary.

“I’m worried that our local authorities aren’t the ones in charge,” Keller said. “I think the missions for these deployments change at the whims of the White House and so it doesn’t really matter what local folks say they are and say they’re not and is why we are all going to be vigilant, we’re going to hold them accountable, we will file injunctions based on the 10th (Constitutional amendment.)”

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