Demanding Records on CBP’s Deployment to U.S. Cities During Racial Justice Protests

Monday, July 27, 2020

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel were deployed to cities around the United States in June and July of 2020 following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers to the subsequent protests, demonstrations, and gatherings in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s death, which has been ruled a homicide.

The public later learned that CBP had also engaged in aerial surveillance during the protests. Subsequently, the Trump administration announced further deployments of federal agencies to police protests in the name of “law and order,” but the presence of federal agencies like CBP at protests has only resulted in acts of excessive force.

The American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties, American Civil Liberties Union of Texas Border Rights Center, and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration are filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records regarding all CBP deployments to U.S. cities from May 2020-present.

The information requested will help the public gain a more comprehensive understanding of the ramifications of CBP’s deployment which reflect a clear lack of transparency. The request entails records regarding CBP’s deployment across U.S. cities in June and July of 2020, specifically at protests following the killing of Mr. Floyd.

The requested records include all requests for assistance to CBP by other entities regarding the deployment of CBP personnel to U.S. cities, including:

  • Conduct of aerial surveillance.
  • Criteria that entities must follow in making such requests, as well as CBP procedures for assessing and approving such requests.

The FOIA also seeks records reflecting policies, protocols, instructions and/or directives outlining CBP’s legal authority to police and surveil protests, as well as communications sent or received by CBP personnel from May 25, 2020 to the present, mentioning, referring, or relating to the deployment of CBP to U.S. cities.

The FOIA also seeks data including the total number of CBP personnel deployed by field office and/or sector, the number of individuals apprehended, arrested or removed by CBP, immigration status of these individuals, including whether the individual is a U.S. citizen, and the statutory basis for CBP’s enforcement action.

Members of Congress, local officials, and the public have expressed grave concerns about CBP’s questionable actions during this deployment. CBP presence at protests particularly alarming due to its well-documented history of civil and human rights abuses that have largely gone unchecked. All of this justifies the urgent need for further information about this historically contentious agency and its deployment to U.S. cities in 2020.

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