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Frank Sharry on the Dangers of an Unshackled DHS in Portland

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The Military Defied Trump After Lafayette Park; DHS Stood Up as His Private Army in Oregon

In response to the Trump administration’s decision to escalate conflict in Portland, Oregon by deploying DHS agents, the following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:  

“The dangers of what’s happening in Portland have deep roots in the Trump administration. From the moment he began his long ugly descent down the escalator in New York in 2015, the pro-immigrant movement in particular has seen this movie many times: Trump uses and abuses his power to attack the non-white “other” in order to divide the nation, foment anger, provoke clashes and mobilize white grievance voters. Whether it’s fear-mongering about asylum seekers and migrant caravans, or hyping threats of Antifa and anarchists, it’s classic authoritarian behavior. It’s classic Trump.

What’s its purpose? To advance, indeed create Trump’s preferred political narrative. In this case, the objective is to define liberal cities as hotbeds of anarchist violence in hopes of scaring suburban voters into voting for Trump. 

Just a few weeks ago, Trump manipulated and enlisted the U.S. military into attacking peaceful protestors to clear Lafayette Park near the White House so he could stage a photo op. The outrage generated by this stunt led the military to make it clear that they would not be an accomplice in Trump’s attacks on Americans in our cities.  

Now Trump is turning to his lackeys at DHS to pick up — and swing — the baton. Unlike the military that refused to play Trump’s game, his appointed toadies at DHS — Chad Wolf, Mark Morgan and Ken Cuccinelli are performing fascism for an audience of One.

This is incredibly dangerous. We in the immigration space know it all too well. The lawlessness and impunity on display has deep roots and started on day one.

Trump came down the escalator and dehumanized the non-white “other” by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals.” During his initial days as president, Trump moved to ‘unshackle’ the massive federal enforcement apparatus housed at DHS and to declare open season on virtually all immigrants and refugees. He announced the Muslim Ban by the end of his first week.

Since then, and with Congress’s help, Trump has expanded the DHS portfolio and budget. He has unleashed CBP and ICE officers to inflict cruelty on immigrants, detainees, asylum seekers, and families. He has countenanced the separation of little kids from their parents; he has cheered the tear gassing of families at the border; he has relished the idea of consigning refugee applicants to squalid and dangerous conditions in northern Mexico; he is currently detaining thousands of immigrants in detention centers rife with Covid; he and Stephen Miller are using the cover of the pandemic to keep out and kick out immigrants by executive fiat. 

This is a dangerous escalation by Trump and his allies. DHS is being used by an out-of-control wannabe dictator to lash out in a city and state run by Democrats. Trump doesn’t act as the President of the United States. He acts as the president of white people in red states at war with the diverse peoples in blue states. And now he has his own private paramilitary force that is loyal to him, not the nation as a whole.

This dangerous set of developments isn’t really about rules of engagement or federal-local communication or how best to protect federal buildings. This is a moment of truth for our democracy.”