Democrats’ rhetoric on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has come under increasing scrutiny following attacks across the United States against facilities associated with the agency.
The latest attack came early Tuesday morning, when armed perpetrators shot at ICE offices in San Antonio, Texas, in what the FBI has described as a “targeted attack.” Though no one was injured, FBI Agent Christopher Combs said in a news conference that “had the bullets gone two inches in another direction, we could be here today talking about the murder of a federal official.”
The number of perpetrators, their identity, and their motives are all currently unknown. According to Combs, however, all of the fired shots were directed at floors of the office complex allotted to ICE, indicating that the perpetrator(s) had done research beforehand. The timing of the attack also suggests that it may have been intended to intimidate, rather than harm, ICE employees.
This incident is only the most recent entry in a growing list of direct actions against immigration enforcement officials. A similar attack occurred on July 14, when a man associated with Antifa attempted to assault an ICE detention center in Tacoma, Washington, while armed with a rifle and “incendiary devices” and was fatally shot by police. The episode came just over a day after a mob of protestors descended on another ICE facility in Aurora, Colorado, on July 12, pulled down an American flag, and raised a Mexican one in its place. Then, on July 16, ICE headquarters in D.C. was the site of a large protest in which 10 people were arrested for unlawfully entering the building.
It has become fashionable again, in the aftermath of the mass shooting by a white separatist in El Paso, Texas, to ascribe blame for political violence to President Trump and his allies. The knife cuts both ways. The national conversation has been awash with talk of “concentration camps” ever since the members of “the Squad” were elected to Congress, transforming a comparatively sedate status quo on immigration into hysterics about fascism and genocide. No doubt some of the ICE employees targeted by these attacks have been with the agency since the Bush presidency or the Obama era, when record numbers of immigrants were deported and children were kept in cages. Yet it is only now that the life and limb of these public servants are threatened, having been compared to Nazi camp guards by elected officials on Capitol Hill.
This newly found progressive hatred of border enforcement was bluntly criticized by Daniel Bible, field office director for ICE in San Antonio, in the aftermath of the attack on his workplace. He put the blame squarely on politicians and the media for creating a culture of “disturbing public discourse” surrounding the agency, asserting that “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.”
These are the same politicians, media outlets, and activist groups that rushed to accuse Trump of encouraging terrorism, claiming that the El Paso shooter “echoed” Trump’s rhetoric. It is time that they take responsibility for the escalating violence that their own hyperbole has helped to fuel.