There is rising controversy in Portland, Oregon where U.S. citizens are being detained by law enforcement in unmarked vehicles and little to no insignia on their uniforms. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has admitted to being one of the agencies involved in arresting protesters in Oregon.

According to CBP’s website, its function is to keep “terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating lawful international travel and trade.” The CBP labels itself as “one of the world’s largest law enforcement organizations”.

In a statement released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency on July 17, 2020, it acknowledges CBP agents detaining a suspect on Oregon. The encounter was caught on tape. According to the CBP, the agents “moved the suspect to a safer location for further questioning,” because they were approached by “a large and violent mob.”

The U.S. Attorney for Oregon has requested an investigation into the arrests of the protesters. Oregon’s governor and Portland’s mayor, both Democrats, have demanded the removal of the federal forces from Portland. CBP has declined to leave.

Customs and Border Protection has come under fire for its enforcement of immigration law as directed by Donald Trump. Among the criticism is the separation of children from parents and the handling of asylum cases. Immigrant advocates have decried how the department has enforced the immigration laws.

As the extent of CBP’s involvement in the Portland protest detentions continues to enter the public realm, will the question of deploying an immigrant law enforcement agency against citizens become an important component of the national narrative?

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...