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As Some Democrats Consider Caving to Trump’s Wishlist on Asylum, Republicans Use Deadly “Invasion” Rhetoric to Describe Migrants

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Senate Republicans have been demanding a series of cruel, draconian and permanent changes to the U.S. asylum system in exchange for funding to support our allies in Ukraine. These lawmakers seek to end the legal pathway of asylum as we know it and cut off other legal avenues for migration that are helping relieve pressure on the border. The proposed new prohibitions for people seeking safety or fleeing violence would inflict untold harm on vulnerable migrants seeking safety and the rule of law in the U.S now and long into the future. Meanwhile, there is absolutely nothing on offer regarding visas and legal immigration avenues or legal status for Dreamers and other immigrants with deep roots here.

It’s the stuff of former President Donald Trump and Stephen Miller’s white nationalist dreams. While they may not be physically at the negotiating table, they loom over these talks, The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent notes in a must-read column

“As one Senate Democratic source told me, Republicans started acting as though Trump and his immigration policy adviser Stephen Miller were ‘looking over their shoulders,’” he reported. Sargent further notes that sources have told him that demands from GOP lawmakers “began to shift” following reporting on Trump’s shocking immigration plans should he return to the White House in 2025. These plans include mass deportations, “sprawling” detention camps to lock up families and long-time immigrants, and an effort to redefine who is an American by seeking to end constitutionally-guaranteed birthright citizenship for children born in the U.S. 

When Trump says he seeks a dark and radical vision for America, believe him. Just last month, he repeatedly spewed horrific “vermin” language echoing dictators like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Numerous historians and experts stated the remarks imitated fascistic propaganda that dehumanized Jewish people by equating them to rodents and parasites. “Trump calls political enemies ‘vermin,’ echoing dictators Hitler, Mussolini,” The Washington Post said in its headline.

The ongoing GOP demands appear designed to “satiate the former president’s taste for draconian nativist savagery,” Sargent continued. In fact, some Republicans have indicated they’re perfectly willing to fail our allies in Ukraine amid Russia’s unprovoked onslaught unless they can get their extreme changes. Funding Ukraine’s defense is a sore point for many Republicans loyal to Trump because Trump’s cozy relationship with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and Trump’s attempt to extort political favors from Ukraine, exchanging weapons for dirt on President Biden’s family, which led to Trump’s first impeachment. In attacking aid to Ukraine and tying it to measures to halt asylum, Republicans have also been invoking white nationalist conspiracy theories. 

“Senator Schumer, empty threats to force the Senate to work a full week does not scare us. The invasion at our border does,” Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall tweeted. This white nationalist “invasion” conspiracy has inspired multiple deadly terrorist attacks. And it is through this warped, bigoted and conspiratorial lens that Sen. Marshall, Trump, and most of the Republican Party approach the challenges of migrants seeking to access the legal asylum process.  

Others in the 2024 GOP presidential field echoed this. “It is shameful that we are using hundreds of billions in military resources to stop an invasion of someone else’s border when we fail to protect against the ongoing invasion across our *own* southern border,” tweeted Vivek Ramaswamy. “It’s not just illegal migrants, human trafficking, & fentanyl, but even armed cartel gunmen are directly invading our homeland.” Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail go as far as to say – out loud – that Democrats are engaged in a vast conspiracy to intentionally flood the country with deadly fentanyl in order to kill Americans.

Keep in mind it’s House Republicans who are actively stifling efforts to combat fentanyl trafficking. “House Republican leadership wants to spike bipartisan legislation targeting fentanyl production because Patrick McHenry is mad that his crypto legislation isn’t also included,” Matt Gertz of Media Matters reported. Most Senate Republicans also voted against funding for construction and modernization of land ports of entry, which includes improved screening technology detecting illicit drugs. Far from improving conditions at the border, Republicans are blocking solutions while supporting proposals and actions would only add more chaos, disorder and cruelty.

But this is what GOP lawmakers are trying to advance. Senators Chris Murphy, Michael Bennet, and any other Senate Democrats at the table need to be made aware of if they insist on negotiating border and asylum policies with a political party that so openly promulgates white nationalist conspiracy theories and endorses rhetoric of past authoritarians and dictators. “No Democrat should advance key elements of the Donald Trump and Stephen Miller wishlist. Period,” said America’s Voice Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas. “They may not be physically in the room, but Trump and Miller are the driving force behind the efforts to gut legal immigration avenues.”

“Democrats, and Republicans if they were serious, should be pushing for thoughtful changes to improve our asylum system, not gut it,” Cárdenas continued. “Given their control of the White House and Senate, Democrats need to be fighting for meaningful changes that will actually improve our immigration and asylum system and reject the grab bag of Trumpian policies being negotiated.”

And, it might be worth the time of Senators Murphy and Bennet to take a look at how their colleagues are using white nationalist rhetoric. Here are some clips of House Democrats, Jamie Raskin, Jerry Nadler, Hank Johnson, exposing the dangers of that vile messaging that they should watch.