In the early hours of Tuesday morning, shots were fired into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices in San Antonio coming within 2 inches of an employee and there are reports of another attack on an ICE building in the area.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) authorities have yet to make an arrest but they are fairly certain of the motive of the attacker(s).
“These shootings were cowardly, brazen, violent acts, absolutely without justification and a threat to our entire community. An attempt to attack federal employees is a federal crime with serious consequences,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Chris Combs, who stated his belief the attack was premeditated and well-researched.
“This is no question a very targeted attack. It’s not a secret facility, you can go online, it’s out there. So they did some research, they knew what floors ICE was on, they knew what buildings they were and they hit those,” he contended.
The physical assault which placed in danger the life of all ICE employees simply doing their job at their desk did not occur in a vacuum. In fact, it follows weeks and months of heightened rhetorical attacks on officers and officials for whom immigration enforcement is their sworn responsibility.
“Political rhetoric and misinformation that various politicians, media outlets and activist groups recklessly disseminate to the American people regarding the ICE mission only serve to further encourage these violent acts,” San Antonio field office director for enforcement and removal operations Daniel Bible told KABB-TV on Tuesday.
“This disturbing public discourse shrouds our critical law enforcement function and unnecessarily puts our officers’ safety at risk,” he added.
The “disturbing discourse” has become increasingly unhinged in the last year and no longer confined to the fringes of the Democratic Party or the darker corners of social media.
The media and politicians long ago traded serious, reasoned debate for amped-up advocacy, demonization of ICE agents and distortions of the agents’ work. When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called detention centers “concentration camps,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi passed on the chance to condemn the remarks and then simply warned that such comments would be bad politically for Democrats – as if they were only heated rhetoric.
Tuesday’s shooting was not an isolated incidents. In fact, it is simply the latest event in a campaign against any individual or agency connected to immigration enforcement.
In the last month:
- More than 200 protesters blocked traffic near a federal building in St. Paul, Minnesota in order to disrupt scheduled deportation proceedings.
- At an ICE detention center in Aurora, Colorado, more than 2,000 protesters amassed outside the facility before breaking onto private property, tearing down an American flag and replacing it with a Mexican one.
- On July 14, 68-year-old Antifa member Willem Van Spronsen armed himself with a rifle as he threw “incendiary devices” at a privately-run detention center in Washington State that is the subject of frequent anti-ICE protests. He wrote a letter prior to the assault saying he planned to “take action against the forces of evil,” who were running “concentration camps.”
- On July 16, protesters with the Jewish activist group #NeverAgainAction blockaded the exits at an ICE building in Washington, D.C. as part of a “shut down ICE” campaign. “We kept this agency — an agency that is cruel in its design — from going about their business of terrorizing immigrant communities,” the group stated in a release a day later.
But it is not just ICE buildings that have been attacked. Last April, the Portland, Oregon offices of Sean Riddell, a lawyer who represents ICE’s union, were vandalized by self-described “anarchists”, according to the Willamette Week,
An email sent to one of the paper’s reporters brazenly admitted to placing a water hose through the mail slot and flooding Riddell’s offices, which was intended to cause “maximum economic damage” and “serve as a warning to all individuals and businesses that profit off the human misery perpetrated by ICE.”
In December, Riddell filed (on behalf of ICE’s union) a notice of intent to sue the city of Portland over how it handled anti-ICE protests during the summer of 2018, particularly the mayor ordering police not to intervene or refusing to answer 911 calls from ICE agents.
Those who continue to engage in outright distortions and the demonization of federal immigration agents might want to ask themselves whether getting ratings or winning elections is worth someone’s life, and how it will play with the public when these incidents inevitably end in the death of a hard-working officer who just wants to serve the public.