The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is deploying agents across the country to join efforts with local and federal authorities to control violent protests over the death this week of African-American George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
CBP is authorized to operate in an area up to 100 miles from any land or sea border in the country, covering two thirds of the US population, or about 200 million people, including entire states like Florida.
But this time, said its acting director, Mark Morgan, they are doing it “all over the country” at the request of federal, state and local authorities who are facing the “illegal actions” of violent protesters.
In a statement, the agency stressed that they are not seeking to enforce their immigration role but only to contribute with other officials.
Morgan assures that this mission is in “conformity with federal laws”, despite carrying it out across the country and not just on the border as is his usual area of work.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized the decision to deploy CBP officers who have a “history of abuse and misuse of power.”
In his opinion, it is a “mistake that threatens the lives of even more” people from minority groups.
Protesters thus rejected the death of black George Floyd while in custody of a Minnesota police officer.
Other activists have already warned of the risk posed by the presence of border agents in the streets of the country, such as the “dreamer” Astrid Silva who asked that undocumented and young people protected by the official Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program be careful. ), which protects thousands of young people from deportation.
“Do what your conscience tells you but understand that it is dangerous to be arrested,” said Silva, who recalled that any minor offense can lead to being detained and, subsequently, deported.
This is not the first that CBP officers engage in similar situations. They also provided support during the Rodney King protests in Los Angeles in 1991 and during the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
Local and state authorities are asking for help to control violent protests, which have resulted in hundreds of detainees in the main cities of the country, who have decreed the curfew.
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States like Minnesota, Ohio, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia have activated thousands of military personnel from the National Guard to try to redirect the situation.
President Donald Trump himself called for a strong hand against the protesters and expressed to the state authorities his willingness to send the Army to appease the riots.
The spark of violent protests jumped after Floyd’s death last Monday after he was detained by Minneapolis (Minnesota) agents.
One of the uniformed officers remained for nine minutes with his knee on the victim’s neck who implored help to breathe, a moment that was recorded by a passer-by and posted on social networks, sparking this new wave of protests nationwide by police violence and racism.