In an interview last week on NPR, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti offered what can only be described as a dangerous self-induced and self-fulfilling prophecy. Discussing the moderate levels of interior enforcement being carried out by ICE since President Trump took office, Garcetti warned of potentially violent resistance in Los Angeles, perhaps on the scale of the 1992 riots that brought death and destruction to his city.
"If something goes wrong, I fear a tinderbox out there, you know where people will suddenly say 'no' and try to defend. You know, keep that person from being taken," said Garcetti. The not-so-subtle message there is that if lawbreakers engage in violence in response to the federal government's attempts to enforce the law, the responsibility for that violence will rest with law enforcement, not with the perpetrators of that violence.
That is a very dangerous message, especially coming from the mayor of the nation's second largest city. But the dangerous irresponsibility does not stop there. Garcetti, like a lot of other staunch opponents of immigration enforcement have created the very tinderbox he warns about. Repeated false assertions that immigration enforcement targets people because of their ethnicity, or is maliciously breaking up families, inflames passions and provides justification for violent resistance.
To be clear, Garcetti is not actively encouraging violence. But neither is he responsibly admonishing the hot heads that, no matter how much they might disagree with immigration enforcement efforts, violence of any kind, much less on the scale of the 1992 riots, cannot and will not be tolerated.
It is not enough for the mayor and other political leaders who support amnesty for illegal aliens to "fear a tinderbox." It is their responsibility to defuse the tinderbox by toning down the rhetoric and by refraining from reckless and unsubstantiated assertions of motive for immigration enforcement. Passionate advocacy for changes to our immigration laws is one thing. Playing with matches alongside tinderboxes of their own creation is quite another.
Dan Stein is the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.