President Trump has signed an executive order asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to determine if the far-left group Antifa can be classified a terrorist organization — and to bar its members from entering the country.
A Tuesday memorandum signed by the outgoing president instructs Pompeo — in consultation with Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen and Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf — to “assess whether to classify” Antifa as a terrorist group, backing up a promise he made months ago.
“The Department of Justice has already publicly confirmed that actions by Antifa and similar groups meet the standard for domestic terrorism,” the memo reads.
“The violence spurred on by Antifa – such as hurling projectiles and incendiary devices at police, burning vehicles and violently confronting police in defiance of local curfews – is dangerous to human life and to the fabric of our nation.”
The order also states it would ensure “immigration benefits may be granted only to those individuals who will follow the laws that govern all United States citizens.”
“Active membership in a criminal association is relevant to the determination of whether an applicant for a visa or other immigration benefit is seeking to enter the United States to engage in unlawful activity,” it reads.
The memo cites protests in California dating back to 2017 when Antifa members physically assaulted several people in Berkeley and caused significant property damage.
In August 2017, “black-clad” Antifa agitators “viciously attacked a rally,” including targeting at least one person because of his conservative political views, the memo states.
The demonstrations led to 13 arrests, including charges of assault with a deadly weapon and obstructing a police officer.
“Those affiliated with Antifa have also repeatedly threatened violence, including against law enforcement officers,” Trump’s memo continues, also citing an Antifa-linked Twitter account that shared the names of 1,500-plus Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees in June 2018 – leading some of them to be harassed.
More recently, alleged Antifa activists in Portland were caught on video attacking a woman who was carrying an American flag, according to the memo.
“Reliable reporting suggests that the movement known as Antifa is directly or indirectly responsible for some of the recent lawlessness in our communities, and has exploited tragedies to advance a radical, leftist, anarchist and often violent agenda,” it continues.
President Trump tweeted in May that the US would seek to designate the extreme anti-fascist group as a terrorist organization. He reiterated that in a tweet Tuesday, warning the group to stay out of Washington.
“Law enforcement is watching you very closely!,” the president tweeted.
Months after Trump’s initial tweet, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the agency considered Antifa to be “kind of a movement” or ideology rather than a group — despite evidence that self-identified anti-fascist activists took part in violent unrest following the May killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
Former Justice Department officials, meanwhile, told the New York Times in May that Trump’s plan to declare Antifa as a terrorism group lacked clear legal authority, citing the absence of a domestic terrorism law.
“There is no authority under law to do that – and if such a statute were passed, it would face serious First Amendment challenges,” said Mary McCord, who previously headed the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
“But right now, the only terrorist authority is for foreign terrorist organizations.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday that the violence committed by Antifa activists will be “called out for the domestic terrorism that it is.”
“President Trump will not allow Antifa, or any terrorist organization, to destroy our great country,” McEnany said in statement.