According to CNN, two immigration enforcement agencies within the Department of Homeland Security are preparing to send federal agents into American cities ahead of next week’s election, which federal and local authorities believe could spark large-scale protests.
The preparations are being made despite harsh criticism over the deployment of federal agents during protests over the summer, which “Officials in cities such as Portland, Oregon, and Washington, DC...argued the increased federal presence was fueling protests, rather than de-escalating the situation.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement is putting personnel on standby in the run up to next week's election, according to a senior ICE official, while Customs and Border Protection has been regularly training personnel -- an extension of the deployments this summer, an agency official said.
"We have teams ready to go as needed," said Ken Cuccinelli, the senior official performing the duties of the Homeland Security deputy secretary, but pointed out that "we don't have any specific intelligence that suggests any particular threat of violence."
According to the senior ICE official, personnel will be deployed if needed to help protect federal buildings, which would free up state and local officials if there are riots or crowd control issues.
When the Trump administration sent federal agents to protect federal buildings in Portland, reports surfaced of all manner of misconduct, up to and including snatching people off the streets in unmarked vans and holding them without charges.
Politifact reported in August:
When President Donald Trump threatened to send federal agents to Philadelphia, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) accused the officers in Portland of "kidnapping and holding citizens without charges."
Our analysis of this claim focuses on two detentions. A federal judge ruled one of them was unconstitutional, and a Trump administration official said agents lacked probable cause for the second. Legal experts say those seizures meet the common language definition of kidnapping, even as they stressed that the officers involved would never be charged.
"Apprehending a person by force and holding him or her in captivity without legal authority is the definition of kidnapping," said Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law expert and the dean at Berkeley Law. "That is exactly what was done to some who were apprehended in Portland."