The White House used its official Twitter account on Tuesday to attack Democratic Senators who have been critical of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Both Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) were tagged by the White House account, along with similar accusations about how their calls for immigration enforcement reform were akin to giving MS-13 gang members free reign to come across the border.
“[Sen. Warren], why are you supporting criminals moving weapons, drugs and victims across our nation’s borders?” the White House account tweeted. “You must not know what ICE really does.” A another tweet, an hour later, accused Harris of supporting the “animals” of MS-13.
Verified White House account being used to target individual US Senators. pic.twitter.com/9OXbKdvAG5
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) July 2, 2018
In doing so, the Trump administration doubled-down, yet again, on describing members of MS-13 as “animals.” In May, the White House released a 10-paragraph statement entitled, “WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIOLENT ANIMALS OF MS-13.”
While the gang is undoubtedly extremely dangerous, experts agree that the Trump administration is completely mischaracterizing how and why they’re a threat. Instead, the Trump administration has used them repeatedly to stoke fears about all immigrants, despite research showing that undocumented immigrants are no more likely to commit a crime than American citizens, and are actually less likely in some cases.
The White House also appears shaken by the increasing calls for the full-fledged abolition of ICE. Blowback from the Trump administration’s family separation policy has meant that a policy idea previously confined to the progressive sphere of the Democratic Party has become increasingly mainstream, with four incumbent Democrats in recent weeks saying that they’d back legislation to abolish the agency.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who shocked the Democrats by beating Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in a primary last week, has made abolishing ICE a key part of her platform. In the protests against Trump’s immigration policy over the weekend calls to abolish ICE were front and center — including in Portland, Oregon, where protesters managed to temporarily shut down an ICE facility.
“What we’ve been saying is ICE has become a rogue agency. It has no accountability. No transparency,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) told CNN on Saturday. “We need to build into any new structure the ability for ICE as an agency or whatever the new agency is, to be accountable back to Congress.”
In response, Trump leaped to ICE’s defense on Twitter. “The Democrats are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen,” he said. “I have watched ICE liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13 & clean out the toughest of situations. They are great!”