The backlash against Trump administration immigration policies has in a matter of days escalated from routine protests to a strategy that includes confronting Cabinet members and other Trump-tied officials in virtually any public venue.
The warning comes after White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant, all following a tumultuous week where the administration was forced to walk back a policy separating immigrant families caught illegally crossing the border.
A spokesman for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was injured in the shooting at a congressional baseball practice just over a year ago, warned about the dangers of overheated rhetoric and protests.
“Whip Scalise knows firsthand the dangerous consequences that can result from making political differences personal and vitriolic,” spokeswoman Lauren Fine said in a statement. “We are lucky to live in a country where we have the right to freely debate our differences civilly. Harassment is never an acceptable method of disagreement.”
Actor Peter Fonda also was condemned for his Twitter call to “rip Barron Trump from his mother’s arms and put him in a cage with pedophiles.”
The recent incidents prompted the DHS over the weekend to issue a memo about “a heightened threat” against their employees due to the furor over Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.
“This assessment is based on specific and credible threats that have been levied against certain DHS employees and a sharp increase in the overall number of general threats against DHS employees — although the veracity of each threat varies,” the memo from acting deputy secretary of homeland security Claire M. Grady stated, according to CBS News. “In addition, over the last few days, thousands of employees have had their personally identifiable information publically [sic] released on social media.”
The memo reportedly recommends that employees take numerous safety precautions, including not displaying work badges in public, being careful with public conversations and using caution on all social networks.
The White House did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment about if any additional security measures are being taken with staff.
Many conservative columnists – and even some prominent liberals – have come to the defense of Sanders, Nielsen and other Trump administration staffers for the harassment they face.
“The treatment of Sanders at the Red Hen restaurant is the very incarnation of the double standard many conservative Americans feel they’ve lived under for years,” Michael Graham, a columnist for the Boston Herald, wrote.
Regarding the protesters, Graham wrote that “instead of being viewed as ‘terrorists’ and ‘extremists,’ as Tea Partiers were during the Obama era, the perpetrators are celebrated for standing up to ‘evil.’”
As Graham suggested, Democrats and moderate Republicans faced similar security concerns during tense town hall meetings during the start of the Tea Party movement early in the Obama administration.
David Axelrod, former President Obama’s senior political adviser, took to Twitter over the weekend to lambast the present-day protesters and say they were doing more to help the Trump administration than hurt it.