Sunday, July 19, 2020
Unless you've been under a rock for a few days (and, hey, quarantine + summer = no judgment here), you've likely heard that there are "federal agents" engaged in anti-protestor action in the city of Portland, Oregon. These agents are wearing camouflage and are reportedly not identified on their clothing (e.g., they aren't wearing blue windbreakers with "FBI" on their back in nice large yellow letters nor do they have "Agent Smith" written clearly across their left breast). They're driving unmarked cars, into which they have been loading/detaining protestors.
Sounds crazy, right? And yet it's definitely happening.
One of the things I've found most interesting is that news has been thin about just who these federal agents are and what department they are deployed from.
According to one report, the agents in question are from two agencies: the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection’s BORTAC. (CBP, the parent agency for BORTAC, has admitted to being involved in the arrest of protestors.)
BORTAC, huh? Now that's odd. I did a quick google maps search. And, sure enough, Portland is within 100 miles of the coastal border. So, under INA 287(a)(3) and 8 C.F.R. 287.1, these guys are within their normal geographical boundaries. But they're sure as s%&t are far afield from their normal work which is "in furtherance of the U.S. Border Patrol’s mission," which is to protect the country from threats from abroad (terrorism, drugs, undocumented migration). That's not exactly what they're up to in Portland where they are ostensibly protecting federal property from protestors but seem really to be interested in quashing protest.
There's not a whole lot of clear information currently available about this developing situation. The U.S. Attorney of Oregon has asked the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General to look into the conduct of DHS employees (which, again, would include BORSTAR) in Portland. The ACLU is pursuing a lawsuit against federal agents. More information should come to light.
For now, I close with HOLY FREAKING HELL. I cannot believe this is happening.