At Issue: War on ICE

Political rhetoric is leading to real-life consequences for those who are enforcing immigration laws.

In July, a man armed with a rifle and carrying incendiary devices attacked a federal immigration detention center in Tacoma, Wash. The man was shot and killed by police, and no one else was injured. In his manifesto, he claimed to be a member of Antifa and echoed the words of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York in calling immigration detention facilities “concentration camps” and calling for the abolition of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

In mid-August, a suspect or suspects fired gunshots into the window of an ICE office in San Antonio. No one was injured, but the shots came close to federal employees sitting nearby. The special agent in charge of the San Antonio FBI office blamed the shooting on “political rhetoric and misinformation” espoused by politicians on the left. The investigation is being treated as an “assault on a federal official.”

The armed attacks on the Tacoma facility and the ICE office in San Antonio came just weeks after progressive-left leaders compared ICE officials to Nazis. In Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s escalating attack on ICE, she has been joined by many of her House Democratic colleagues, including Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. Rep. Omar has also called for eliminating the Department of Homeland Security.

As dangerous as these comments coming from members of Congress are, equally disturbing is their refusal to condemn or even criticize armed attacks and other pro-leftist violence. Members of Congress from Georgia have joined in the condemnation of ICE and Homeland Security. Rep. Hank Johnson has accused ICE of “terrorizing” communities of color for enforcing federal laws on illegal immigration. Congressional Democrats, including Georgia’s representatives, have called for the elimination of ICE. Federal immigration policy, and the role of ICE, is already a major issue in the 2020 presidential campaign.

Atlanta and Georgia have a huge stake in these issues. Metro Atlanta has a large population of undocumented immigrants. The city and state continue to be a major labor market for immigrant communities, of both legal and illegal migrants. And there are three federal detention centers in Georgia that routinely house ICE detainees. In addition, a number of localities throughout the state operate through an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to detain undocumented individuals at the request of ICE.

Some counties and cities in Georgia have followed the lead of progressive Democrats in other parts of the country in refusing to cooperate with ICE and Homeland Security. These include the cities of Atlanta, Decatur and Clarkston, and the counties of DeKalb, Fulton and Clayton. Although it is against state law for a local government to declare itself a sanctuary city or county, this is essentially what these local governments have done. Under the U.S. Constitution, they have that right. Unfortunately, it helps to legitimize more dangerous approaches advocated by some of our less-than-responsible political leaders.

Granted, our immigration system is badly in need of attention. We all hate what is happening to children and adults at the border. But that’s what Congress is for. Do something!

Politics is one thing. People will disagree on political issues. Happens all the time. However, this is now accompanied by a shocking and reckless disregard for the law and for the safety and well-being of those officials charged with carrying out the law. The tacit approval of violence by progressive-left advocates is unacceptable. Same for the extreme right, they should be held accountable.

If civil society is to survive, much less provide stable government, then certain agreements among the people must be upheld. Among these are supporting and respecting the authority of federal and state agencies to do their jobs. Hold them accountable. If you disagree with a law or how it is enforced, call them out, provide the evidence and help change the law or the regulations governing those agencies.

But that’s not the approach some congressional Democrats are taking. Calling for the abolition of ICE and the Department of Homeland Security is not a constructive, or even remotely realistic, avenue. Calling federal detention centers “concentration camps” is divisive and reckless, not to mention insulting to the memories of genuine concentration camp victims and survivors. Failing to condemn Antifa criminals, who, ironically, act a lot like certain brown-shirted street brawlers of 1930s Germany, speaks volumes.

As many have said over the last year, words have consequences. This is particularly true when acts of violence are met by politicians with a simple shrug of the shoulders.

Categories: At Issue, Opinions