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5 Things to Know About Tim Scott’s Extreme Anti-Immigration Plan

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South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who is also running for President, published an op-ed outlining his immigration and border plan. But, like other Republicans these days, rather than offering solutions to address our broken immigration system, Scott’s proposal is full of extremist rhetoric, unworkable policies and the baseless demonization of immigrants, including falsely tying the fentanyl crisis to immigration. What is becoming abundantly clear is that the apparent entry fee for the Republican presidential primary is adopting the sort of vile xenophobia that shocked the nation when Donald Trump descended his golden escalators and entered the presidential contest in 2015. The whole party has only descended lower and lower since then when it comes to demonizing immigrants.  

Here is what you need to know about Tim Scott’s so-called immigration and border plan:

  • Focuses on baseless fearmongering and lies about fentanyl instead of actual solutions: His plan lacks solutions to deal with this complex and multifaceted issue, instead pushing the pernicious lie that fentanyl is an immigration issue when the data show that it’s overwhelmingly trafficked by U.S. citizens through ports of entry. By falsely blaming migration for the fentanyl crisis, he extends the suffering of the fentanyl crisis by distracting from a real conversation about solutions. Scott further claims that President Biden “has no plan to disrupt the supply chain that connects Chinese chemicals to Mexican drug cartels and creates fentanyl,” but this is simply not true. Just this past summer, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the next phase of its anti-fentanyl campaign focuses on “interdiction and supply chain disruption.” Officials said that two previous campaigns seized nearly 10,000 pounds of the drug. When Scott had a chance to help improve the infrastructure at ports of entry and aid in interdiction, he was among the Republicans to vote against hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding for the ports of entry where drugs typically enter the country. In a reckless and shockingly dangerous threat, Scott’s plan also suggests going to war with Mexico – one of our closest allies – over the fentanyl crisis.
  • Pushes dog-whistle lie that echos white nationalist conspiracy theory: Scott’s plan pushes a dog-whistle for the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory that has inspired multiple deadly terrorist attacks in El Paso, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh. In promoting a misleading figure about the number of migrants who’ve tried to enter the country, Scott suggests that millions of migrants are replacing entire populations of states. This is not an accident: major GOP presidential candidates, including Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, have explicitly endorsed this racist conspiracy theory and it has become an organizing principle of the GOP. During the same week as the four-year anniversary of the El Paso mass shooting, Mike Pence’s Advancing American Freedom organization also released an immigration plan that opened with the “invasion”conspiracy theory. These candidates, Scott included, know the possible deadly consequences of political rhetoric, yet they continue to actively court more political violence with this dangerous language.
  • Seeks to continue building Donald Trump’s ineffective and expensive border wall: Scott’s plan pledges to “restart construction to finish the border wall,” calling it an “absolute necessity,” and proposing to spend $10 billion on its construction. Let’s take a moment to remember that Trump’s embrace of the border wall wasn’t based on policy, it was basically an anti-immigrant campaign chant. Now, it’s become standard policy for the GOP, despite the record that it’s an absolute waste. Numerous reports from throughout Trump’s presidency detailed how portions of his border monstrosity were felled by heavy winds and sliced through by $100 saws available at commercial hardware stores, while contracts rewarded Republican donors. Sections of wall were ultimately breached thousands of times. (And, that doesn’t include the privately funded “We Build the Wall” debacle, which was championed by Trump allies like Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach. That group’s founder is now in prison.) Repairs have cost nearly $3 million as of 2022. Contrary to Trump’s claims that Mexico would pay for his wall, it was the U.S. taxpayer that ultimately footed the bill. Scott would continue this. His plan also promises to “deploy the latest and greatest military-grade technology to crack down on drug smuggling and human trafficking at our entry ports.” Once again, if Scott were a serious person, he’d admit that the vast majority of drugs are smuggled at ports of entry by Americans. But when Scott actually had a real chance to improve border security, he voted against it. He was among most Republicans to vote against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included $430 million in screening technology improvements.
  • Promises to restart family separation: Scott’s extreme plan appears to call for the reimplementation of the kind of barbaric “zero tolerance” policy that led to the forcible separation of thousands of families under the Trump administration, some of whom remain separated from their parents to this very day. The American Academy of Pediatrics called the family separation policy of Donald Trump “torture,” with children and families affected by the policy continuing to struggle with its psychological effects. “I will implement a zero-tolerance policy for illegal immigrants with criminal records,” Scott’s plan states. Unfortunately, we’re dealing with an agency where corruption and a lack of accountability are evident and that sometimes can’t be bothered with details. Even after the Trump administration was forced by a federal court to reunite children it had stolen from their parents under the horrific policy, border officials continued to separate families, “in some cases using vague or unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoing or minor violations against the parents, including charges of illegally re-entering the country, as justification,” ProPublica reported in November 2018. Officials falsely accused one asylum-seeker, Julio, of being a gang member. He was separated from his four-year-old son, Bryan, for months. Officials refused to show evidence of Julio’s supposed gang ties. That’s because none existed. “I still don’t understand why they did this to us,” Julio told ProPublica after their reunification. “I guess they can do whatever they want.”
  • Is a political stunt: Simply put, this is not a serious immigration or border plan. When Scott had a chance to vote on a bipartisan comprehensive package that would have actually begun to address our nation’s broken immigration system, he voted against it. “Scott voted no on the sweeping immigration compromise in 2013 put forward by the ‘Gang of Eight,’” NBC News said. Instead, he recently “joked” that he would appoint Tucker Carlson (Fox News’ chief purveyor of white nationalist conspiracy theory before his abrupt departure) his “Bye-Bye Ambassador” of mass deportation. To add to the nativist theatrics around his immigration plan, Scott also went to the border late last week, the latest Republican to visit for a photo op on a gunboat, to film campaign ad footage, or to simply demagogue on the issue as a political strategy.