KEY POINTS

  • The Department of Homeland Security confirmed that three special units within Customs and Border Patrol have been deployed to Portland, Oregon
  • The units were identified as Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC), Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR), and Border Patrol Special Operations Group (SOG)
  • President Trump has threatened to deploy more federal agents to New York City, Chicago, Baltimore, and other cities to address rising crime rates and ongoing protests

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security deployed three special units to Portland, Oregon, as part of the federal response to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, the department said. The groups were described as paramilitary-style units within Customs and Border Protection.

“We have agents and officers from our special operations groups deployed,” DHS said in a press release. The three units were identified as the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC), Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR), and Border Patrol Special Operations Group (SOG).

“BORTAC and BORSTAR advance the missions of the Border Patrol and U.S. Customs and Border Protection by handling uncommon and dangerous situations outside the normal scope of Border Patrol agent duties,” Border Patrol said in an SOG fact sheet. “BORTAC and BORSTAR accomplish their goals through planning and training. SOG deploys to domestic and international intelligence-driven and anti-terrorism efforts as well as to disaster and humanitarian special operations.”

This admission comes as the Trump administration remains under fire for deploying federal agents to Portland in an effort to stomp out the protests. Videos have appeared online over the last week showing agents in unmarked vehicles arresting protesters indiscriminately, which advocates have said is a clear violation of free speech protections under the First Amendment.

State officials have also argued federal agents have only contributed to the growing unrest in Portland.

“Donald Trump has no justification for deploying paramilitary troops to the streets of Portland or any other American city,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told Reuters. “These occupying forces are creating conflict, attacking peaceful protesters and making my hometown more dangerous. For Portland to find peace, Trump needs to pull unwanted federal agents out of our city immediately.”

Despite the criticism, President Trump doesn’t appear to be slowing down as he has threatened to send federal agents to Chicago, New York City, Baltimore, and Philadelphia to address rising crime rates in the cities and any ongoing protests.