A Customs and Border Protection team is headed to Seattle where it will remain on standby to help protect federal facilities, Department of Homeland Security officials told CNN.
The Special Response Team, from the CBP’s Office of Field Operations, was deployed at the request of the Federal Protective Service, DHS’ agency responsible for protecting federal property, a department official said.
“The team is being sent on standby, not as a surge force,” another DHS official told CNN.
The New York Times first reported that the Trump administration was sending a tactical team to Seattle in support of federal law enforcement.
The move comes as President Donald Trump and top officials are promising to crack down on what they say are violence and the increase in crime in major cities. Masked, camouflaged federal authorities without identification badges arrested protesters in Portland as part of the President’s demand that federal buildings be protected from protesters, drawing backlash from local officials. DHS officials said agents were identified by agency insignia and a “police” label on their uniforms.
In a separate effort, the Trump administration is also preparing to send federal agents to Chicago this week, two law enforcement officials told CNN earlier this week.
“There is no large-scale deployment of personnel to Seattle at this time,” DHS spokesperson Alexei Woltornist said in a statement Thursday. “As threats warrant, any large scale use of law enforcement assets will involve close coordination with local law enforcement.”
“In this environment, all major metropolitan areas have additional capabilities on standby to protect facilities. This is prudent and commonsense,” Woltornist said.
He also differentiated the situation from that of Portland, adding that “there are no other cities across the country that have the same threats and lack of local law enforcement support as we are experiencing in Portland.”
A spokesperson for FPS reiterated that “the CBP team will be on standby in the area, should they be required.”
“Federal Protective Service routinely requests mutual assistance from other law enforcement agencies when there are threats to federal properties,” the spokesperson said, adding that “FPS requests this kind of assistance multiple times a year at our over 9,000 facilities across the country.”
CNN has also reached out to CBP for comment.
DHS sent “rapid deployment teams” to cities including Seattle and Portland ahead of July Fourth to protect federal monuments after anti-police protests had swelled in recent weeks.
Some local officials are pushing back. Last week, the US Attorney for the Oregon District requested an investigation into the Department of Homeland Security personnel involved, who have been captured on various videos arresting protesters and putting them in unmarked SUVs. CBP and DHS have disputed that the agents were unmarked.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned Monday about plans to send federal agents to the city in the wake of criticism of how they are facing off with protesters in Portland, saying that “we don’t need federal agents without any insignia taking people off the streets and holding them, I think, unlawfully.”