Extremist violence targeting migrants along the southwest border could rise amid the possible lifting of the public health restriction known as Title 42, according to a Department of Homeland Security intelligence assessment obtained by ABC News.
The bulletin, dated Dec. 23 and issued by DHS’ intelligence and analysis branch, came just before the Supreme Court announced that they would hear arguments on whether or not the policy should continue.
The high court ordered the controversial restriction, which allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants and is officially intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, be kept in place until they decide on an appeal from 19 states who want to preserve the policy.
The justices will hear the appeal in February.
“We assess that the potential for domestic violent extremist (DVE) violence along the US Southwest Border likely will increase in the coming weeks based on recent online calls for violence in response to the anticipated lifting of US Code Title 42,” the late-December bulletin states.
In particular, the bulletin cites "calls for attacks targeting primarily migrants and critical infrastructure."
"But our insight into DVE plotting is constrained by these individuals’ use of online security measures to limit exposure to law enforcement," the DHS assessment notes.
On social media, the department says extremists have also posted “online calls for violence targeting migrants at the US Southwest Border.”
“The tactics discussed are consistent with DVE messaging and include firearms attacks, the placement of land mines along migration routes, and luring migrants into trailers to poison them with gas, according to DHS reporting,” the bulletin states.
DHS believes that domestic extremists will be influenced by "perceptions of ... law enforcement action along the border" after Title 42 ends: “This includes perceptions about individuals, groups, or other organizations operating along the border, the treatment of migrants encountered there, and the number of migrants entering the United States.”
According to the department, social media users have discussed shooting electrical substations near the southern border as a way to “disrupt immigration facilities and public safety and emergency services, judging from DHS reporting.”
This tactic, the department says, is new and similar to what occurred in early December at a substation in Moore County, North Carolina.
Militia extremists pose the greatest threat to law enforcement, the bulletin states, because of their readiness and preparedness. In years past, extremists have targeted immigrant communities, such as in the 2019 mass shooting of an El Paso, Texas, Walmart.
“Since at least 2018, DVEs responsible for mass casualty attacks tied to immigration grievances have prioritized soft targets perceived as being densely populated by immigrants or facilitating migration to the United States,” the bulletin states.
The assessment was first reported by CNN.