A truck from U.S. Customs and Border Protection drove by fasting pro-immigration activists outside Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart’s (R-FL) offices Monday, according to local reports from the Miami Herald and the Miami New Times.
Activists on the scene — where some are in the middle of a week-long fast — said the action was an attempt by CBP agents to intimidate protesters advocating for a “clean” DREAM Act and protections for recipients of so-called Temporary Protected Status, thousands of whom now face deportation.
“So far 1 hr into us being outside of Rubio’s office and they already are doing intimidation tactics, having ICE drive by our location slowly, and trying to kick us off the side walk,” wrote Paula Muñoz, who attended the protest, on Facebook.
A regional spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Nestor Yglesias, said the vehicle appearing in photos by Muñoz and other activists belonged to CBP, not ICE. Both agencies are part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Keith Smith, a spokesperson for CBP in Florida, told TPM in a statement Wednesday: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel travel regularly as part of routine activities and normal business. There are six CBP offices with a fleet of approximately 100 vehicles in the area of Miami International Airport and Sen. Rubio’s office. CBP Officers frequently use the route along which the protest occurred to commute during the normal operational scope of their duties, as was the case on that day. CBP officers enforce the nation’s laws while preserving the civil rights and civil liberties of all people with whom CBP personnel interact.”
— Tomas Kennedy (@Tomaskenn) December 4, 2017
President Donald Trump ended DACA, the Obama-era program shielding qualified undocumented young people from immediate deportation, in September. Neither the White House nor Congress has made much progress in replacing the program, spelling trouble for hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people who handed sensitive information over to the federal government.
Temporary Protected Status is a deportation protection granted to undocumented individuals from certain countries who face political or environmental turmoil if they are deported. Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke announced the termination of TPS protections for undocumented Haitians and Nicaraguans living in the United States in November.
Duke said of TPS-eligible Hondurans, whose status is in question: “[A]dditional time is necessary to obtain and assess supplemental information pertaining to country conditions in Honduras.”