The expansion of the ranks of the CBP happened in the first months of the Trump administration, because it had some personnel turnover. It had spaces available in the first front lines of that ‘Muslim Ban’ executed at points of US entry. It is one of the areas that allows for operations of a federal paramilitary police force, defending the US Homeland. Now the US needs to be defended from Portland?
Trump has used its tactical unit BORTAC in such a role before (in the hope that in one 2018 southern border rule of engagement, US troops (or paramilitary officers) could fire on protesters with rocks).
Now its remit has been expanded in hoping for a kind of confrontation that could help the Trumpian manufacture of 1960s carnage that rationalizes his reelection.
While many people have criticized the alleged lawlessness of the arrests, some even engaging in conspiracy theories about them, these arrests are likely legal, according to current and former federal law enforcement officials interviewed by The Nation. And that’s exactly what makes them so troubling, explains Jenn Budd, a former Senior Border Patrol Agent.
“During the DC protest, many federal agents removed their insignia,” Budd explained, referring to a June 1st protest in front of the White House where protesters were tear gassed. “What the agencies discovered was that they could do this without much blowback from Congress,” Budd explained.
A former senior DHS intelligence officer explained that, while other federal agencies are required to wear identifiers when conducting arrests—NCIS agents have to wear both marked jackets and hats during arrests, for example—that is not the case with DHS. “The fact is, they don’t have to do anything in marked vehicles,” he said. “Such operations happen all the time and at the discretion of supervisors.”
“If it gives them a tactical advantage, they will find a way to justify it,” a current DHS official told The Nation.
But just because the practice is legal, that doesn’t mean it works in law enforcement’s favor. “It’s good for public image to have visible police presence as a deterrent,” the former intelligence officer said.
So this week, federal officers came to Portland and began arresting people.
But guess what? Local officials don’t want them to do this. And for very good reason: It’s apparently making the situation worse.
There is reason to believe that this is exactly what the Trump administration wants.
More troubling still, Brown tells us that the situation had actually been improving in recent days, and that the arrival of federal law enforcement has caused it to deteriorate.
“We know that things were calming down,” Brown, a Democrat, told us. “We know that the presence of federal officers has inflamed the streets.” Over the weekend, a young man protesting was shot in the face and severely wounded by less-than-lethal ammo from federal marshals.
“If they were really interested in helping us, they would have had conversations first, and taken actions later,” Brown said. “Instead it’s Ready, Fire, Aim.”
Brown said that on Tuesday, she bluntly told the acting secretary of homeland security, Chad Wolf, that the presence of federal officers in the streets was exacerbating matters.
“I told him that the federal government should remove federal officers from our streets,” Brown told us. “I said it’s like adding gasoline to a fire.”