WASHINGTON — At the direction of the Justice Department, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as Customs and Border Protection are "demobilizing" from the protests in the nation's capital, spokespeople from both agencies told NBC News.
The immigration agencies, both of which fall under the Department of Homeland Security, had been taking commands from Attorney General William Barr as he mobilized several federal law enforcement agencies to respond to protesters in Washington.
The use of federal agents, particularly those involved in forcibly clearing protesters out of Lafayette Square in front of the White House ahead of President Donald Trump's walk to St. John's Church last week, has been heavily criticized, including by D.C.'s Mayor Muriel Bowser.
One DHS official said a small number of Border Patrol agents will continue to support police at protest areas in Arizona and California.
At its height, nearly 400 border agents and officers from the Washington region were deployed to respond to protesters.
The Daily Beast was first to report that ICE and CBP were pulling agents out of D.C.'s protest response.
The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment or say whether it would also downscale the number of other federal agents following protests over the weekend that were largely peaceful. The FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Park Police, Bureau of Prisons, Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, the Secret Service and U.S. Marshals have all been involved in efforts to quell protests in Washington.