Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego (Ariz.) warned Trump immigration officials they "will not be safe" in the future for having followed "illegal" deportation orders.
Fox News reported Gallego's ominous tweet came in response to a Washington Post story report that "thousands" of Hispanics living near the southern border are possibly being denied U.S. passports and have been accused by the Trump administration of employing fraudulent birth certificates. In some cases, the Post reports, the people in question are held in detention centers and face deportation.
"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," Gallego tweeted.
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
Gallego is one of the many strong Democratic critics of Trump in Congress; earlier this year, he called him a "psychopath."
The union representing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement employees told Fox reporter Alex Pappas, "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."
Gallego stood by the remarks in another statement to Pappas, although he emphasized they faced possible "legal consequences."
"Government officials who violate the law or the constitution 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 said.
The Post reported the government's suspicions are tied to cases of midwives who admitted to providing fraudulent birth certificates for babies born in Mexico:
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.
The government alleges that from the 1950s through the 1990s, some midwives and physicians along the Texas-Mexico border provided U.S. birth certificates to babies who were actually born in Mexico. In a series of federal court cases in the 1990s, several birth attendants admitted to providing fraudulent documents.
Based on those suspicions, the State Department during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations denied passports to people who were delivered by midwives in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. The use of midwives is a long-standing tradition in the region, in part because of the cost of hospital care.
The same midwives who provided fraudulent birth certificates also delivered thousands of babies legally in the United States. It has proved nearly impossible to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate documents, all of them officially issued by the state of Texas decades ago.
The Post interviewed a man, referred to as Juan for purposes of the report, who said he was delivered by a midwife in Texas and went on to serve in the U.S. Army, yet is now being denied a passport.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told Fox News the Washington Post‘s report was a "political cheap shot" and domestic passport denials were at their lowest level in six years.
"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," Nauert said. "Under the Trump Administration, domestic passport denials for so called ‘midwife cases’ are at a 6-year low. The reporting is a political cheap shot."
Democrats blasted the Trump administration over the Post story. Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez called the report a "vicious assault on our community" and "disgrace to our democracy."
Americans are being held, targeted, and denied their rights because of the color of their skin. This is a disgrace to our democracy and a vicious assault on our community. We must make our voices heard. These families are counting on us. https://t.co/3o5eZmh1gm
— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) August 30, 2018