President Donald Trump is using the Department of Homeland Security in an unprecedented way to strengthen its references to law and order by holding a stubborn demonstration of power in cities across the country ahead of the November election.
His plan to send federal agents to Chicago and perhaps other democratically run cities where violence is on the rise is Trump's recent move to use an agency founded after the September 11 attacks to frustrate terrorists and instead seek local law enforcement agencies Complement way that strengthens him re-election chances.
Trump has already dispatched homeland security agents to Portland to protect federal buildings from protesters, and has voiced harsh criticism from local leaders, who say the federal presence has only exacerbated tensions rather than promoting public security.
"This is exactly the kind of tyrannical power that the founding fathers were particularly concerned about," said Jeffrey A. Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University.
According to Trump's latest plan, which has not yet been released, about 150 Homeland Security Investigations agents would go to Chicago to help local law enforcement agencies cope with an increase in crime, an official with direct knowledge of the plans said the condition of anonymity spoke because you were not authorized to speak publicly.
The agents, who are generally used to investigate human trafficking, drug and arms smuggling, are expected to stay in Chicago for at least two months, the official said. It is not exactly clear when they would arrive or how their mission would develop, but they would work under the Ministry of Justice.
A spokesman for the Homeland Security Service said the department did not comment on "allegedly leaked operations." The White House press officer, Kayleigh McEnany, said no one had yet been sent to Chicago. She added: "The bottom line is that President stands for law and order, which leads to peace."
In a tweet on Sunday, Trump accused local leaders of a growing tide of violence in cities like Chicago that killed dozens of people, including young children. He added a terrible warning that "the radical left-wing Democrats who fully control Biden will destroy our country as we know it" and referred to democratic rival Joe Biden.
Trump has also intervened in other cities, including Washington, DC. In the protests following George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, Trump deployed U.S. National Guard troops and law enforcement officers from agencies such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Drug Enforcement Administration to patrol the city.
The demonstration of power came to a head when the federal authorities in protective clothing scattered the crowd from Lafayette Square opposite the White House, where the president posed with a Bible in front of a church.
The Chicago plan appears to be an extension of a separate operation in which the government dispatched more than 100 federal police officers to Kansas City, Missouri, to suppress a record increase in post-boy violence. The Department of Justice does not have the manpower to bring agents to high-crime areas, so it borrows from Homeland Security.
However, the Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, has made it clear that Trump should not launch a similar operation in this city that committed 414 murders this year, compared to 275 in the same period in 2019.
Illinois Democratic Governor J. B. Pritzker criticized the president's plan on Tuesday, calling it a "wrong move."
"We will do everything we can to prevent them from coming. And if they come, we will do everything legally to get them out," he said.
During his presidency, Trump relied on homeland security to achieve his political goals, including combating illegal immigration and slowing legal immigration applications. The 240,000-strong agency manages border security, natural disasters and the transportation security administration.
Since the border is largely closed due to the corona virus and the number of illegal crossings, Trump is now using the department to fight crimes and demonstrations that demand justice and racial equality.
While the protests have been largely peaceful, Trump and his allies have shown the cities to be out of control in conservative media as he tries to confront Biden and prevail among voters – especially suburban women who turned against Republicans in the medium term in 2018 – that the non-election for a second term leads to lawlessness.
Critics say federal forces have fueled tensions and created new images of violence that could scare viewers to vote for Trump.
The homeland security agency first responded to the federal response to the Floyd protests in May when some demonstrations of sporadic violence broke out across the country. However, on the fourth weekend in July, efforts were in full swing when homeland security agents and officers from at least half a dozen components of the sprawling organization arrived in Portland.
Since May, demonstrators have held nightly demonstrations in a part of the city center, which also includes the Federal Supreme Court, and are forcing most companies in the zone to close.
Former homeland security officials said they had seen nothing comparable to the Portland operation, which used highly skilled border guards to confront demonstrators outside the downtown courthouse without the cooperation or consent of local law enforcement or government officials.
"City police, mass control and riots are not in their wheelhouse," said Gil Kerlikowske, former Commissioner for US Customs and Border Protection under President Barack Obama. "It is not something they are trained for. It is not something they have experience or expertise in."
Arrests by federal officials on the fourth weekend in July and a few days later concerned relatively minor offenses that are not normally prosecuted in federal courts, including offenses and disorderly behavior. Officials have accused some demonstrators of attacking federal officials by using lasers in their eyes or other means, and said at least one person was arrested with the ingredients for a pipe bomb.
John Cohen, a former senior DHS official under Obama and President George W. Bush, said that such a high profile presence of federal agents without local support created the risk of the situation escalating, and that is exactly what happened.
The protests have increased in recent days, especially after federal officials arrested several people on downtown streets in unmarked vans and with generic "police" patches last week without identification – a move some critics have compared to kidnapping .
"If the public realizes that they are biased in their way of working, they lose credibility, and if they lose credibility, they lose public trust," said Cohen. "And for a security or law enforcement organization, losing public trust can be fatal."
David Lapan, a retired naval colonel who served as spokesman for homeland security and as a civil servant with the Department of Defense, said he was concerned about a blurring military-law enforcement border that "gives the impression that the military is being used for oppression." " the public."
The House Homeland and the Judiciary Committees have both requested an investigation.
"The legal basis for this use of violence has never been explained – and frankly, it is by no means clear that the Attorney General and the Acting Secretary are authorized to use federal law enforcement officers in this manner," said a letter signed by Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler by the Justice Committee and Bennie Thompson by the Internal Security Committee.
AP authors Michael Balsamo in Washington and Katherine Foody in Chicago contributed to this report.