Immigration and Customs Enforcement is deploying personnel and Special Response Teams nationwide to respond to unrest stemming from protests largely fueled by the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
“In light of civil unrest taking place across the country, ICE personnel and Special Response Teams have been deployed to protect agency facilities and assets in support of the Federal Protective Service and assist local, state and federal law enforcement partners, as needed,” the agency said in a statement to CNN.
ICE did not say where personnel would be deployed. An agency spokesperson underscored, however, that ICE will not be conducting immigration enforcement. Protests and public demonstrations are part of ICE’s sensitive locations policy, meaning enforcement actions should generally be avoided, the spokesperson added.
“It’s all going to be assisting jurisdictions with what they’re trying to do which is generally keep the peace, protect citizens, protect property. There’s not going to be any immigration enforcement element whatsoever,” the spokesperson said.
Some context: It’s not unusual for ICE to assist state, local and federal partners. ICE usually works closely with them, including in cases when additional manpower is needed, for example during hurricane response or at high-security events, like the United Nations General Assembly, according to former acting ICE Director John Sandweg.
“Any time there’s a major event, public safety event or otherwise, it’s very common for ICE to volunteer support, especially when federal agencies need assistance,” he said.
ICE said in its statement that it “fully respects the rights of all people to peacefully express their opinions.” On Sunday, US Customs and Border Protection—another of the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration agencies — said it was deploying agents and officers to assist law enforcement.