The Trump administration’s deployment of federal officers to US cities came under scrutiny this summer and drew accusations of DHS becoming politicized as Trump administration officials claimed local politicians of not doing enough to control protests.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement is putting personnel on standby in the run up to next week’s election, according to a senior ICE official, while Customs and Border Protection has been regularly training personnel — an extension of the deployments this summer, an agency official said.
“We have teams ready to go as needed,” said Ken Cuccinelli, the senior official performing the duties of the Homeland Security deputy secretary, but pointed out that “we don’t have any specific intelligence that suggests any particular threat of violence.”
Those meetings have included the White House National Security Council, the Office of Personnel Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the various intelligence agencies and the military, the official said. This level of contingency planning is standard practice ahead of a national election, the official said.
ICE and CBP have tactical law enforcement teams that can be deployed to augment other law enforcement if needed.
In a “volatile time it is standard practice” to say, “let’s run the hoops — what it would take, name ‘this location’ and what kind of force, how many people, what would it cost and how long would it take to get there,” a CBP official told CNN.
According to the senior ICE official, personnel will be deployed if needed to help protect federal buildings, which would free up state and local officials if there are riots or crowd control issues.
Preparations are similar to the Portland deployments when officers assisted Federal Protective Service — an agency that also falls under DHS and is charged in part with protecting federal facilities.
The agency also recently prepared for the possibility that it would be called to provide personnel when the charges in the Breonna Taylor case were announced, an official said, but CBP personnel weren’t needed in the end.
The agency is “on standby all the time,” said another CBP official, citing “the size and frequency of what we are seeing.” “Training has been focused on de-escalation tactics, constitutional rights and crowd control,” the official added.
As of now, though, Cuccinelli told CNN that there isn’t intelligence “of anything brewing that appears to be violent” related to the upcoming election, but cautioned that it can change quickly.
CNN’s Vivian Salama contributed to this report.