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Homeland Security agencies prepare for civil unrest amid heightened tensions nationwide

Two of the Department of Homeland Security's immigration enforcement agencies are preparing for the possibility of more civil unrest amid a contentious elect...

Posted: Oct 26, 2020 2:14 PM

Two of the Department of Homeland Security's immigration enforcement agencies are preparing for the possibility of more civil unrest amid a contentious election, according to officials, part of a concerted effort by federal and local authorities to prepare for large-scale protests.

The Trump administration's deployment of federal officers to US cities came under scrutiny this summer and drew accusations of DHS becoming politicized as Trump administration officials claimed local politicians of not doing enough to control protests.

Officials in cities such as Portland, Oregon, and Washington, DC, meanwhile, argued the increased federal presence was fueling protests, rather than de-escalating the situation. They, and protestors also criticized federal officers for not having clearly distinct badges, leading the US Attorney for the Oregon District to request an investigation.

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."

CNN previously reported that since January, more than five dozen meetings have taken place in an effort to prepare various agencies for all likely scenarios, according to a senior administration official, and nearly 100 meetings in the past year, two other law enforcement officials said.

Those meetings have included the White House National Security Council, the Office of Personnel Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the various intelligence agencies and the military, the official said. This level of contingency planning is standard practice ahead of a national election, the official said.

ICE and CBP have tactical law enforcement teams that can be deployed to augment other law enforcement if needed.

In a "volatile time it is standard practice" to say, "let's run the hoops -- what it would take, name 'this location' and what kind of force, how many people, what would it cost and how long would it take to get there," a CBP official told CNN.

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.

Preparations are similar to the Portland deployments when officers assisted Federal Protective Service -- an agency that also falls under DHS and is charged in part with protecting federal facilities.

While CBP is charged with enforcing the nation's borders, the agency regularly assists law enforcement, like after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Laura. CBP's legacy agencies also assisted local partners during the 1992 Rodney King protests.

The agency also recently prepared for the possibility that it would be called to provide personnel when the charges in the Breonna Taylor case were announced, an official said, but CBP personnel weren't needed in the end.

The agency is "on standby all the time," said another CBP official, citing "the size and frequency of what we are seeing." "Training has been focused on de-escalation tactics, constitutional rights and crowd control," the official added.

In the event that Trump secures reelection outright, federal and city officials told CNN that large-scale demonstrations are expected in major Democratic-majority cities across the country, especially in New York City and Washington, DC. Should Biden win outright, those same officials do not expect the same large-scale protests but are preparing for them nonetheless. Agencies are also preparing for the possibility that there is no clear winner come November 4.

This summer, after consecutive protests in Portland, federal officials, including CBP and ICE officers, were deployed to the city to help protect federal property and personnel. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf attributed the move to violence directed at federal property and personnel.

Ahead of the July 4th weekend, Homeland Security officials also deployed across the country to protect federal monuments. "Rapid deployment teams" were sent to cities, including Seattle and Portland, while regional teams were pre-positioned with the intent to be available anywhere in the US within hours.

As of now, though, Cuccinelli told CNN that there isn't intelligence "of anything brewing that appears to be violent" related to the upcoming election, but cautioned that it can change quickly.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 205030

Reported Deaths: 2730
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40113612
Washington26647247
Marion23258322
Clackamas18748234
Lane13772158
Jackson11420146
Deschutes993180
Umatilla851786
Linn550479
Klamath475377
Yamhill474779
Polk393755
Douglas378580
Malheur359763
Josephine352972
Benton323922
Jefferson235738
Coos215737
Columbia188629
Union148724
Wasco143429
Lincoln141221
Crook127423
Hood River121633
Morrow115016
Clatsop10268
Baker99215
Curry68510
Tillamook6604
Grant5477
Lake4667
Harney4149
Wallowa1945
Gilliam751
Sherman661
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3801728

Reported Deaths: 63193
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles124612924434
Riverside3013124618
San Bernardino2989764788
San Diego2812033770
Orange2726505103
Santa Clara1198942175
Kern1106041400
Sacramento1071991718
Fresno1027831720
Alameda893401285
Ventura815541028
San Joaquin744011432
Contra Costa70276810
Stanislaus631901068
Tulare49758849
Monterey43791419
San Mateo42604581
San Francisco37189555
Santa Barbara34572460
Solano33569266
Merced32253474
Sonoma30688323
Imperial28799741
Placer23345298
Kings23166247
San Luis Obispo21405261
Madera16586245
Santa Cruz16202208
Marin14170229
Yolo14118212
Shasta12580232
Butte12576194
El Dorado10339116
Napa998680
Sutter9614112
Yuba644850
San Benito609563
Lassen577524
Tehama571663
Nevada487875
Humboldt441546
Mendocino427450
Tuolumne418569
Amador372147
Lake355245
Glenn242527
Siskiyou238637
Colusa227918
Calaveras220056
Del Norte14488
Inyo143438
Mono12954
Plumas7356
Modoc5344
Mariposa4617
Trinity4165
Sierra1130
Alpine890
Unassigned330
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