Harris, Scanlon, Vargas Demand Answers on ICE & CBP Involvement in Policing Ongoing Protests
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) and Juan Vargas (D-CA) on Friday led 97 of their colleagues in a letter to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Matthew Albence demanding answers on the agencies’ involvement with the ongoing protests against police brutality in light of reports of law enforcement using force at protests and demonstrations. The letter follows reports of ICE and CBP assisting law enforcement during the protests.
“We are writing to you today regarding recent reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are deploying resources in connection with demonstrations nationwide,” the lawmakers wrote. “As both CBP and ICE have acknowledged, the right to peaceful protest is a bedrock principle of our democracy. We write to you today to request information regarding ICE and CBP operations in connection with demonstrations, particularly in light of public reports that law enforcement have used force—including tear gas, spray chemical irritants, non-lethal bullets, and other forms of force.”
They continued, “It is also vital to ensure that ICE and CBP are acting responsibly, reasonably, and within their respective authorities. CBP has stated that ‘CBP’s deployment of manpower and aerial assets is about supporting the efforts of our federal, state and local partners, not about carrying out CBP’s immigration enforcement mission.’ An ICE spokesperson similarly stated that ‘[t]here’s not going to be any immigration enforcement element whatsoever.’ We need answers regarding what, precisely, your agencies will be doing and what policies and procedures are in place to protect the rights of individuals with whom you come into contact.”
Along with Harris, Scanlon, and Vargas, the letter is signed by Senators Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tom Udall (D-NM), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tom Carper (D-DE), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tina Smith (D-MN); Representatives James P. McGovern (D-MA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Deb Haaland (D-FL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-TX), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Donna E. Shalala (D-FL), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-IL), Peter Welch (D-VT), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Jerrold "Jerry" Nadler (D-NY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), Darren Soto (D-FL), David E. Price (D-NC), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Al Green (D-TX), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Mark Takano (D-CA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), J. Luis Correa (D-CA), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Karen Bass (D-CA), William R. Keating (D-MA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), André Carson (D-IN), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), John Yarmuth (D-KY), Norma J. Torres (D-CA), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Susan A. Davis (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Alma S. Adams (D-NC), Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Judy Chu (D-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), David Trone (D-MD), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).
The letter is supported by Immigration Hub, United We Dream, the Southern Border Communities Coalition, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Multicultural Efforts to end Sexual Assault (MESA), and La Asociación Campesina de Florida.
Vargas represents California’s 51st Congressional District which includes the southern portion of San Diego County, all of Imperial County and California’s entire U.S.-Mexico border. Vargas was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and is currently serving his fourth term in Congress. He serves on the House Financial Services Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee.