McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The head of the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued a national terrorism alert due to a heightened threat environment in the United States that the agency directly links to racial and ethnic tensions with regards to immigration ideology and the new Biden administration.
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security David Pekoske sent out the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin at 11 a.m. EST Wednesday after consulting with the intelligence community and law enforcement partners, his office said.
The advisory will be in place until April 30 and warns citizens that threats could be possible in upcoming weeks after President Joe Biden’s successful inaugural event. Intelligence preceding the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremonies in Washington, D.C., had indicated a high threat level but the events were carried off with no violence.
Now Pekoske is warning Americans: “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence.”
A deadly and riotous mob overtook the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as lawmakers were certifying the presidential election results, causing five deaths and numerous injuries, and forced Americans to realize that a rift in sociological ideology in this nation had transformed into actual civil unrest.
The bulletin issued Wednesday says Domestic Violent Extremists (DVEs) have for quite some time been targeting “individuals with opposing views engaged in First Amendment-protected, non-violent protest activity.”
This includes the 2019 shooting at a WalMart in the border city of in El Paso, Texas, which left 23 people dead and 23 injured — and has been linked to hate crimes fueled by immigration ideology differences.
The shooting suspect, Patrick Crusius, has plead not guilty and has been charged with both state and federal crimes in what authorities said was an attempt to scare Hispanics into leaving the United States.
“DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some DVEs may be emboldened by the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to target elected officials and government facilities,” the DHS bulletin says.
DHS occasionally issues these advisories through its National Terrorism Advisory System, but it is unusual to have an alert generated due to concerns about domestic extremists.
“It is striking,” Doris Meissner, former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service under President Bill Clinton, and now a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., told Border Report on Wednesday.
“DHS does put out bulletins and various advisories but I have not seen one like this on domestic terrorism nor have I seen it linked to immigration before,” Meissner said.
Homeland Security says that Homegrown Violent Extremists are inspired by the actions of foreign terrorist groups and there is a threat of violence that could occur at “critical” infrastructures including: electric, telecommunications and health care facilities.
The threat of violence is inflamed by “misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19,” the bulletin says.
Meissner said the alert is a “generalized kind of a warning” and she is uncertain how actionable it is for law enforcement agencies, at this time. But she believes it is the culmination of a noticeable growing threat from domestic terrorism over the past few years that the Trump administration did not stress to the pubic. And this signals a new level of communication by the new Biden administration to bring those concerns to the public forefront.
“This domestic terrorism issue has certainly become more and more apparent in recent years and definitely throughout the whole last year,” Meissner said. “The fact that they have bracketed out in the way they wrote the announcement immigration as one area of grievance by people who subscribe to these white supremacy ideals is also valid and born out with what we know.”
The public is warned to avoid large crowds, such as protests, and to wear masks at events with many people, and to carry emergency contacts and medical information to better allow first responders to provide assistance