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Sunday, July 14th, 2024

Sen. Rubio asks federal agencies to bar members of Extinction Rebellion from U.S. soil

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European climate activists earned the ire of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) this week over reported plans to bring their protests of fossil fuels across the ocean.

In a letter to Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Rubio took the unusual step of asking the pair to bar members of the UK-based group from entering the U.S., and pointedly demanding to know the steps being taken to achieve this. Extinction Rebellion is, notably, not a terrorist group that would typically earn such requests – rather, it is an environmental group that points to nonviolent civil disobedience as a way to push government action on climate change, biodiversity loss and ecological collapse.

Its members have come under criticism since their founding for the more boisterous approach they take to the issue, rather than working behind the scenes, and for instances of property damage some have inflicted. Thousands have been arrested at past protests, the most recent of which occurred last month in the Netherlands, where they blocked a major roadway in The Hague.

To Rubio, though, the group is nothing more than a cult, and he accused them of plotting to disrupt federal properties, block interstate highways and spread chaos across the country in a coordinated campaign to push radical politics. He adopted similar language against Antifa – a loose affiliation of people, rather than a single organization – in attempting to stir up support for his Safe Passage on Interstates Act (S. 4825) last year, although this bill never made it out of committee. It would have criminalized any intentional obstruction of traffic on interstate highways not granted by government authorization.

“Among other things, the group will allegedly block highways and disrupt federal properties, but violence and terrorist acts cannot be discounted given the group’s past threats,” Rubio wrote.

This would not be the first time groups affiliated with Extinction Rebellion have attempted action in the United States, though. In April, one such group blocked a capital area roadway in Washington, D.C. as part of protests. However, Rubio framed protests not approved by the government as potentially dangerous.

“Even small delays that prevent first responders from reaching injured patients or victims of crime can mean the difference between life and death,” Rubio said. “Despite the potentially deadly consequences, these zealots continue to plot illegal and disruptive activities in pursuit of their radical and destructive climate agenda. It should be obvious that foreign nationals who are members of violent extremist organizations should not be allowed into the country.”