President Trump signed a memorandum instructing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to determine whether to designate Antifa as a terrorist organization. The memo was issued on January 5, 2021, with the intent to restrict the movements of any migrants linked to the extreme anti-fascist movement and bar them from entering the United States.
Trump urged Pompeo to consider the terrorist classification based on an assessment of information from the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. The memo noted that the Justice Department has already determined that the actions of Antifa “meet the standard for domestic terrorism” and called for its inclusion among a list of criminal organizations within the Foreign Affairs Manual of the Department of State.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, individuals who have engaged in or are likely to engage in terrorist activity are not allowed to enter the country. The memo stated that only people “who will follow the laws that govern all United States citizens” should be granted immigration benefits.
Violent acts perpetuated by Antifa are “dangerous to human life and the fabric of our nation,” the memo stated. Trump claimed that Antifa was to blame for “recent lawlessness” that sought to further “a radical, leftist, anarchist and often violent agenda.” He cited recent riots in Louisville, Kentucky and Portland, Oregon as examples, as well as protests in Berkeley, California in 2017 when Antifa members “physically assaulted” people.
The memo marked the Trump Administration’s first official action against Antifa since it came into focus during nationwide protests for racial justice in May 2020. In September of that year, FBI Director Chris Wray testified in Congress that Antifa was a movement or ideology rather than a group, thereby raising questions about whether it can actually be classified as a terrorist organization.