WASHINGTON - In an unusual move by a chairman committee of the chairman's own partyt, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon refuses to schedule a hearing for President Biden's candidate for US Customs and Border Protection until the administration answers questions on the federal response to the unrest in Portland, Oregon, last summer.
Mr. Wyden, Democrat and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, informed the White House this week of his decision to postpone a hearing for Chris Magnus , the Tucson, Arizona police chief. Mr Biden appointed Chief Magnus in April to head the agency, which plays a central role in tackling the influx of migrants to the country's southern .
Mr. Wyden said that for months he had asked officials in the justice and justice departmentsHomeland Security to answer specific questions about how agencies under former President Donald J. Trump were preparing for the extraordinary step of sending federal law enforcement officers into the country. the streets of Portland, and what happened on the ground, when the protests turned violent after the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.
"Six months after the start of the new administration, the Ministry of Homeland Security and Justice has not answeredfundamental questions about how the Trump administration abused federal resources to stoke violence against peaceful protesters in my hometown, "Wyden said in a statement Wednesday.
Mr. Wyden is a liberal who occupies one of the most powerful positions in the Senate He was elected to the House in 1996 after having served in the House since 1981, where he representswas a district which includes parts of Portland.
"While it is clear that customs and protection face pressing issues," he said in the statement, "As a Senior Senator from Oregon, I am unable to advance this candidate to DHS and DOJ gives Oregonians clear answers about what happened in Portland last year, and who was responsible. "
Mr. Wyden comes as the flow of migrants across the country's southern has surpassed record levels in recent years. Border Patrol, which is part of Customs and Border Protection, has intercepted migrants entering the . country over 178,000 times without documentation in June, the most 'apprehensions since April 2000.
The administration is plan how it will lift a public health order put in place at start of the pandemic, which he used to turn back migrants at the over a million times. Lifting this order will further increase the number of people trying to enter the country, which will increase the sense of urgency to put in place a permanent chief at customs and protection.
"In view of the continuing humanitarian crisis in the , it is urgent that its leaders ip and expertise ", members of Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force , a group of 'local law enforcement officers supporting an immigration overhaul, wrote Chief Magnus in an open letter on Wednesday.
A year ago, as protests in Portland continued throughout the presidential campaign, Mr. Biden said Mr. Trump was using "blatant tactics" to deal with the unrest in Portland.
"Homeland security officers - without a clearly defined warrant or authority - go far from federal property, stripped of badges and insignia and identifying marks, to detain people ”, Mr. Biden said in a statement at the time. "They brutally attack peaceful protesters, including a veteran of the United States Navy.
Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, suspended the appointment of Chief Magnus and several other homeland security officials until, he said last week, "we can really get the Biden administration to define what its policy will be and what she is going to do to be able to enforce the law ".
This kind of gesture is typical of senators who are not part of the party of the president, but not the interference of an ally of the president.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said that the 'agency responded to Mr Wyden privately last weekand "look forward to working with him to resolve his ncerns issue.
Keith Chu, a spokesperson for Mr. Wyden, said the ministry only provided "partial" answers to the senator's questions. A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said on Wednesday that the agency was working with Mr Wyden 's office on his requests.
According to an official at the White House administration hopes the Senate will cooperate with plans to move forward with the appointment of Chief Magnus.
Downtown from Portland was closed for weeks last summer amid protests against police violence after a white Minneapolis policeman killed Mr. Floyd, an unarmed black man, theMay 25. As the shooting sparked protests across the country, the protests in downtown Portland lasted those in most other cities.
Position himself as a president of law and order, Mr. Trump described the city as lawless, filled with ' " anarchists "who " hate our country ". And he praised the actions of federal agents from several agencies who fired tear gas at crowds and fired protesters in unmarked vans. Among the officers deployed to Portland were members of a Customs and Border Protection Special Tactical Team which is typically deployed in drug trafficking operations.
This only irritated the demonstrators, who had expressed their concerns about the rise of fascism in the United States.
"The uncoordinated deployment of poorly trained federal law enforcement agencies in Oregon and other parts of the country must never happen again," Wyden wrote in a = "css-1g7m0tk Letter of June 9 to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.
A report of the inspector general published inApril revealed that the Department of Homeland Security had the authority to send federal agents to Portland, but failed to properly prepare them or coordinate with other agencies.
Although the report answers some of Mr. Wyden's questions, it seeks additional answers as to who directed the officers in the field and whether they were identifiable, with badges and uniforms. He also asked what advice, if any, officers received on how to interact with protesters and members of the media. And he asked for a list of the equipment the federal agents used while deployed to Portland.
Mr. Wyden also asked about the deployment of federal agents to Portland a few hours after the investiture of Mr. Biden.
Mr. Mayorkas began a department-wide review in March of the decisions that led to Agency t involvement in the Portland protests. The review aims to "ensure that all D.H.S. law enforcement personnel receive appropriate training and operate in accordance with policies consistent with best practices and the law, ”said Marsha Espinosa, spokesperson for the department. She said the agency "is committed to respecting the rights of all people who peacefully exercise their First Amendment freedoms of expression and assembly.
In May, M. Biden revoked a Trump-era executive order that paved the way for agents federal law enforcement officials to descend on Portland for the stated purpose of protecting federal buildings and property.