A Democratic congressman from Arizona is facing criticism after he tweeted a warning to federal immigration officials that they “will not be safe” once Democrats are back in power.
“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.”
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.
Mr. Gallego, an Iraq War veteran of Colombian and Mexican descent, later clarified his remarks in a statement Thursday, saying he didn’t mean violence, but that government officials “who violate the law or the [C]onstitution will not be immune to legal consequences.”
“They will eventually be held accountable for their actions, even if the Trump administration is refusing to do so,” he told Fox News.
Mr. Gallego’s comments were prompted by a Washington Post report Wednesday that said the U.S. government denied passports to Hispanics who have U.S. citizenship but are suspected of having fraudulent birth certificates.
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.