Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), are preparing to respond to protect federal property in Washington, DC on Election Day for the first time ever.
Two Department of Homeland Security officials reportedly told NBC News that the DHS’s unprecedented call to action for Election Day protection comes in response to nationwide demonstrations and attacks on federal property that have occurred this year.
While the agency is usually called upon to provide supplementary security in Washington, DC, on inauguration day, it has never been tasked with helping control demonstrations on Election Day.
When asked about securing Washington around Election Day, a spokesman for CBP said, “As a law enforcement component under the DHS Protecting American Communities Task Force (PACT), CBP will continue to provide support, as requested, to the Federal Protective Service to protect Federal facilities and property if needed and to local law enforcement partners if requested.”
In June, President Trump issued an Executive Order on “Protecting American Monuments, Memorials and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence” that helped establish the “Protecting American Communities Task Force.”
“The first duty of the government is to ensure domestic tranquility and defend the life, property and rights of its citizens. Many of the rioters, arsonists, and left-wing extremists who have carried out and supported these acts have explicitly identified themselves with ideologies – such as Marxism – that call for the destruction of the United States system of government,” the President’s order read. “Anarchists and left-wing extremists have sought to advance a fringe ideology that paints the United states of America as fundamentally unjust and have sought to impose that ideology on Americans through violence and mob intimidation.”
Composed of ICE, CBP and the Federal Protective Service, the new task force “will conduct ongoing assessments of potential civil unrest or destruction and allocate resources to protect people and property,” a release from the DHS announcing the new force stated.
“DHS is answering the President’s call to use our law enforcement personnel across the country to protect our historic landmarks,” Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said. “We won’t stand idly by while violent anarchists and rioters seek not only to vandalize and destroy the symbols of our nation, but to disrupt law and order and sow chaos in our communities.”
The new task force was first put to the test in Portland over the summer as agents protected the federal courthouse against demonstrators for more than 60 consecutive days.