Earlier this week, an article in the Washington Post described difficulties for Hispanics using phony birth certificates to obtain passports along the border. The article referenced a report claiming the Trump administration was denying hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people at an accelerated pace, as they applied to renew passports. The birth certificates were issued by midwives, generally speaking. This all involves combatting citizenship fraud.
In some cases, passport applicants with official U.S. birth certificates are being jailed in immigration detention centers and entered into deportation proceedings. In others, they are stuck in Mexico, their passports suddenly revoked when they tried to reenter the United States. As the Trump administration attempts to reduce both legal and illegal immigration, the government’s treatment of passport applicants in South Texas shows how U.S. citizens are increasingly being swept up by immigration enforcement agencies.
So, instead of supporting ICE agents for doing their job, an Arizona Democrat, Rep. Ruben Gallego, decided to issue a not-so-veiled threat to them. He wants them to know that when Democrats come back into power in the House, the agents will be held accountable for their “illegal acts”. Gallego called it a warning.
“If you are a US government official and you are deporting Americans be warned,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, who won his party’s Tuesday primary and is expected to easily win a third term representing the state’s 7th Congressional District, tweeted Thursday.
“When the worm turns you will not be safe because you were just following orders,” he wrote. “You do not have to take part in illegal acts ordered by this President’s administration.”
If you are a US government official and you are deporting Americans be warned. When the worm turns you will not be safe because you were just following orders. You do not have to take part in illegal acts ordered by this President's administration. https://t.co/BLq48HRkbH
— Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) August 30, 2018
The same actions were taken during the administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama but now the report claims that the Trump administration is going at a pace that exceeds previous administrations. A spokeswoman for the State Department, Heather Nauert, issued a rebuttal and noted that the deportations have decreased since 2015.
A State Department spokeswoman blasted the report as a “political cheap shot” in a statement to Fox News, saying passport denials in such cases have declined since 2015 during the Obama administration.
“The facts don’t back up the Washington Post’s reporting. This is an irresponsible attempt to create division and stoke fear among American citizens while attempting to inflame tensions over immigration,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
Here are the facts… pic.twitter.com/GEJ9Di2iaR
— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) August 31, 2018
Naturally, the agents’ union didn’t take kindly to the congressman’s tweet.
The National ICE Council, a federal employee union representing thousands of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees, accused Mr. Gallego of inciting violence against officers for doing their job.
“It should be frightening to every American that a sitting member of Congress would threaten the safety of any person and their family, and incite the public to take acts of violence against them, let alone the lives of those whose job it is to protect us and keep us safe,” union President Chris Crane said in a statement provided to Fox News.
Gallego issued a terse statement of clarification after the blowback began. He didn’t apologize though.
“Government officials who violate the law or the constitution will not be immune to legal consequences,” Gallego said Thursday. “They will eventually be held accountable for their actions, even if the Trump administration is refusing to do so.”
President Trump ran on a promise to crack down on illegal immigration and securing the border. Gallego is measuring the curtains in hopes of a blue wave strong enough to usher the Democrats back into control of the House. He also has a record of statements putting him firmly in the open borders crowd. When President Trump issued the travel ban in 2017, Gallego called him racist and bigoted. In March 2018, Gallego called Trump’s border ideas stupid. In June he weighed in on border detentions and family separation policy by tweeting, “This is Trump’s America. It doesn’t have to be our America. We are better than this.”
As this is an election year – and Gallego really wants the blue wave to become a reality, he isn’t supporting the others in his party calling for abolishing ICE.
“This is the same White House that’s already separated thousands of families and created 2,000 orphans to this date and to trust the president to judiciously use any immigration force is dangerous and asking for restructuring I think is perfectly fine,” Gallego told CNN.
Maybe he’ll join the chorus after the election.