Trump administration sending tactical border team to Seattle

The Trump administration is sending a tactical border patrol team to Seattle, making good on President Trump’s pledge to use the full force of the federal government to protect federal property, The New York Times reports

The team being sent to Seattle is similar to the teams that have already been deployed to Portland to fortify federal property that has been damaged by protesters who have dominated the city’s downtown area since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the end of May.

Formally the federal officers are known as a Special Response Team and operate under U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), according to the Times.

“The CBP team will be on standby in the area, should they be required,” the Federal Protective Service said regarding the federal squadron.

A CBP spokesperson said that the team would only be used if the protests expected this weekend in Seattle escalate to a boiling point.

Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) told the Times in an interview that she had spoken with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acting Secretary Chad Wolf earlier Thursday. Wolf told her that administration didn’t have plans to deploy a large force of agents to the city and wouldn’t do so without communicating with her first. Durkan said that she hadn’t been made aware of the incoming federal team, but noted that DHS could be making a distinction between active agents and those on standby. The mayor made it clear to Wolf that Seattle did not need the assistance of federal officers.

“Any deployment here would, in my view, undermine public safety,” Durkan told the paper.

DHS spokesman Alexei Woltornist told the Times that the federal presence in Seattle would be smaller than that in Portland.

“There is no large-scale deployment of personnel to Seattle at this time. As threats warrant, any large-scale use of law enforcement assets will involve close coordination with local law enforcement,” Woltornist said. “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.”

The federal officers in Portland, who have been there since late June, have caused outrage nationwide. In particular, the conduct of the agents has raised serious legal and constitutional questions.

Both Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) have condemned the federal presence. Members of Oregon’s congressional delegation wrote to Wolf last week demanding a full review of what happened.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called the officers “stormtroopers.”

Still, the president has continued to throw his full support behind the agents and Wolf. 

On Monday he said that he would possibly be sending more federal officers to other “Democratic” cities, saying that the agents in Portland were doing “a fantastic job.”

“I’m going to do something — that, I can tell you,” Trump said. “Because we’re not going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these — Oakland is a mess.” 

The Hill has reached out to DHS for comment.

Tags CBP Chad Wolf Chad Wolf DHS Donald Trump federal agents Jenny Durkan Jenny Durkan Nancy Pelosi Portland Seattle Trump Washington state
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