July 27, 2020

ICYMI: Castro, Blumenauer, Bonamici, Garcia Unveil Appropriations Amendments to Defund Trump’s Secret Police

WASHINGTON—In response to the Trump administration’s continued occupation of Portland, Oregon and the president’s threat to expand such operations to other cities, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Congressman Chuy Garcia (D-IL) announced a new plan to block federal law enforcement officers from intervening in constitutionally protected protests across the country.

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has relied on a section of the United States Code to justify the use of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and other federal law enforcement officers to protect federal facilities. In practice, this has resulted in gross abuses of power toward protestors, including the nightly use of munitions and tear gas. Unidentifiable federal forces in unmarked vehicles have also grabbed protesters off the street in Portland.

Last Thursday, the lawmakers filed three amendments to the Fiscal Year 2021 Homeland Security; Department of Defense; and Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bills that would further reign-in the Trump administration’s federal law enforcement overreach. These appropriations bills would defund the ability of DHS, DOJ, and DOD to use the pretext of protecting federal property to prevent Americans from carrying out their rights to public assembly and freedom of opinion.

“President Trump’s use of unidentified and unwanted federal agents in Portland, pulling protestors into unmarked vans without probable cause, is not only unconstitutional—it’s dangerous. This is what dictators do,” Castro said. These authoritarian actions have no place in our democracy. The use of federal agenda on American streets has escalated tensions and sparked unnecessary conflict, and these amendments are an important step to reign in the President’s abuse of power.”

“Our citizens, our local officials, our Congressional delegation and our governor have all asked the Trump administration to stop the lawless occupation of Portland. We will not stand for these abuses of power any longer,” Blumenauer said. “Congress must defund these secret police forces before they wreak havoc and inflame tensions in other cities.”

“We will not let Trump or his administration get away with militarizing our streets,” Bonamici said. “He is using camo-clad federal officers without identification badges to terrorize protestors, violate First Amendment rights, and dramatically escalate tensions in Portland. We will use every tool we have to make sure these officers are removed from Portland, and we will work to prevent him or any other overbearing executive from trying this again here or in other cities.” 

While these amendments would not interfere with the authority of the Federal Protective Service to secure federal property, they will ensure that no taxpayer resources can be used to police protestors, unless explicitly requested by local authorities.

If federal support is requested, the amendments would require that non-military law enforcement personnel wear uniforms clearly identifying their agency of affiliation, rather than any uniform resembling a military-style combat uniform worn by the Armed Forces.

Copies of the amendments filed Thursday by the lawmakers can be found here for DHS, here for DOD, and here for CJS.

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