Salvo 07.11.2024 8 minutes

Confederate California

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Democratic jurisdictions are preparing for massive resistance.

Despite the current hash that the Democratic Party faces regarding its nomination process for the presidential election, it remains clear that the Left and the media plan to  perpetuate a psychological pressure campaign against the American people if they dare to reassert national sovereignty and undo the brazen lawlessness of the Biden years. The American Right is behind the curve. It is time to begin anticipating seriously, and communicating to the people, what the Left may do if Donald Trump is re-elected, especially if he begins the process of restoring our border and deporting illegal aliens in accordance with longstanding federal law.

It is absurd to assume that the Left’s resistance to the application of federal law and the restoration of order will itself remain within the boundaries of the law. Additionally, we can expect blue state governors and mayors to mount the most serious test of dual sovereignty we’ve seen in this country in 70 years.

The Left is already conditioned to engage in property-destroying protests and cordon off American highways, making a mockery of our proud history of peaceable assembly. They are also convinced that many illegal aliens are refugees from war torn nations and desperate asylum seekers. They ignore the reality that most of those entering our country illegally have the cash and mobility to join the commercialized caravans that line the pockets of so many local officials along the way, and that economic migration is not a legitimate reason for asylum.

As the likelihood of a second Trump presidency becomes clearer, the activated protestors across our major cities, marching and camping out for months, will not suddenly head home. They will stand ready to resume the #Resistance they carried on from 2017 to 2021. But what is on the horizon is not simply a continuation of those and other destabilizing protests over individual flashpoint issues. Instead, we’re approaching the beginnings of the most significant resistance to federal authority in any of our lifetimes.

Early Stages of the Anti-Federal Resistance

In the latter half of the Obama years, the U.S. entered a transition in which resistance to federal authority over immigration policy became less theoretical and more real, with limited action against federal facilities and employees. The movement began to gain steam in 2013, with activists targeting the movements of federal authorities and attempting to prevent law enforcement officers from carrying out their duties.

In October of 2013 in San Francisco, activists surrounded a bus full of deportees and prevented its attempt to leave the city for several hours. This echoed another incident in Arizona a month or so earlier in which activists created a roadblock on a freeway exit and then swarmed busses carrying illegal aliens in transport to a federal courthouse by chaining themselves to the tires of the busses. Simultaneously, other activists chained themselves to the front door of the federal courthouse itself. A few days after this event, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Phoenix closed its doors in advance of a planned “Shut Down ICE” protest targeting the building.

In the San Francisco incident, none of the activists, themselves illegal aliens, with whom the police were forced to negotiate that day were arrested or deported, because San Francisco has declared itself apart from federal law when it comes to immigration. The protesters appeared to consider themselves similarly apart from it. “We’re not going to wait for Congress anymore,” one of the activists reportedly declared.

In November of the same year, several activists were arrested after blocking the entrance to an ICE contractor facility in California. Another detention facility was targeted in December 2013 in New Jersey, with activists locking themselves to the entrance in an attempt to obstruct the work of enforcing the law. Similar demonstrations took place that same month in Fairfax, Virginia, and Los Angeles.

Over the next several years, municipalities around the U.S. raced to declare themselves sanctuary cities and states. Radical activists escalated rhetoric to cheers from members of our national congress who want to “Abolish ICE” and routinely declare their allegiance to an alien form of government known as democratic socialism.

The radical activists matured their tactics of subversion and—as evidenced by the events described below—transitioned to using more direct methods of violence against federal officials and facilities. That violence now spans both the Trump and Biden administrations.

In 2018, the Abolish ICE movement was given a boost when a “makeshift city” called the Multnomah Camp was created in Portland outside the local ICE offices. Activists not only obstructed access to the federal facility, but, according to law enforcement officials, “barricaded the doors so that anybody inside can’t get out.”

This anti-ICE movement spread to other cities, and in Portland it was uniquely successful: the activists forced the shutdown of a federal facility.

The next year in Seattle came another major escalation when an Antifa terrorist targeted ICE “armed with a homemade AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle and carried Molotov cocktails and flares. He set a vehicle on fire and attempted to ignite a propane tank to set the building on fire.”

Exactly one month later, shots were fired into two ICE offices in San Antonio, with federal officials concluding that the attack was “well planned” given that shots were fired only into floors in which ICE operated.

In 2020, Portland again took center stage as the country’s incubator of protest. This time, the activist’s violence was not in response to enforcement of federal immigration policy; instead they attacked federal facilities in response to the police’s killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Rioters set fire to a federal courthouse and then began an “occupation” and regular violent clashes with local police.

In the summer of 2020, DHS sent over 750 officers to Portland in an attempt to regain control over federal facilities. However, after additional clashes, injuries to DHS officers, and much bad press, federal authorities withdrew. The occupiers prevented access to the facility on and off into 2021, with fencing only coming down around the facility in June 2024. Today, the federal courthouse is open, but with “massive stainless steel walls that function like hinged airplane hangar doors, which will allow the building to withstand most thrown projectiles.” It also received a recent grant for the installation of bulletproof windows.

This latter episode, while not directly tied to immigration, may serve as the most direct portent for what we can expect when federal officials, acting at the behest of the people they represent to enforce the laws those people have passed, begin to reassert national sovereignty and stop the extralegal flow of illegal aliens into the U.S.

Why recite the above history in such detail? Because the American people are unprepared for what we are about to experience. Alarm bells need to be rung.

From Theory to Practice

Federal authority over immigration is rejected in more than 600 sanctuary jurisdictions. Blue state mayors and governors already instruct local officials not to cooperate with federal officials, even in some cases preventing the removal of violent and criminal illegal aliens from the streets. Roadblocks and other quasi-violent tactics have now been mainstreamed for leftist agents and are tolerated by the media and those same local officials.

This combination will naturally lead to direct, physical challenges to federal authority by state and local governments, and extralegal violent protests by Americans whose allegiance now lies with non-citizens over their fellow citizens and the laws they’ve passed through their federal legislature. 

The Biden Administration, and those they deputized to traffic so many people into this country, is willing to embrace extralegal means to accomplish their goals. Why would we expect them not to embrace similar means when the fate of their political project is most at stake?

Intimidation of the populace and practical, physical resistance to the enforcement of federal law will serve the goal of changing policy through extralegal resistance. As law enforcement responds and outrage ensues, pressure will mount to abandon the policies the American people have voted for and support in majorities, including mass deportation. City squares will again face occupation, activists will again endeavor to physically prevent federal law enforcement officers from doing their jobs, and attacks on federal officials and facilities are likely to resume.

Amidst this violence we can expect the rejection of federal authority by Democratic governors who will pick and choose the degree of their participation in our federal union. This seems theoretical to some, or the type of dispute where state attorneys general file lawsuits and emergency stays, but that’s old thinking. Let’s look at what we can expect in a more practical way.

What downside will there be for Gavin Newsom to obstruct federal officials from accessing his state in the numbers necessary to begin large-scale deportations? If you’re any politician in California, which means you’re aware that your voting population’s standard of living relies on indenturing millions of illegal aliens, what downside risk is there to marshaling the resources of your state to resist the long-ignored application of federal immigration law in your city or district?

Let’s imagine that federal officials begin deportation operations within the unofficial camps around Jacumba in San Diego County. At the same time, instead of dropping off illegal aliens at the airport as CBP does now, they instead identify and detain them for deportation.

Federal action against illegal immigrants will be presented—as it was under the first Trump Administration—as Nazi tactics and will feed the frenzy of Democratic officials, radical activists, and their allies in the media. Would we be surprised, then, if Newsom sent his own law enforcement officials to cordon off those camps? What happens when this plays out, at the same time, in New York City and at O’Hare? The “Muslim ban hysteria” playbook is unlikely to deter a battle-hardened Trump.

Put more simply, what happens when the federal government insists?

This isn’t a suggestion that a civil war or disunion are on the immediate horizon. But recent Supreme Court decisions regarding the authority of the executive have set liberals on edge, and the hysteria sewn by the media intensifies. We shouldn’t assume that the Left will acquiesce to a new administration they believe in their bones to be tyrannical and illegitimate. And we need to start preparing for what that means.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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