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Combating the Nativist Narrative – Weekly Summary – Week of May 29, 2023

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  • A Return to the Racist Attack on Birthright Citizenship:  Donald Trump announced this week that on “day one” he would sign an executive order ending birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants, a legally dubious proposal that attacks the Constitution and strikes the heart of the best American ideals. 125 years ago, Wong Kim Ark, born in San Francisco to Chinese immigrants, fought under the racist Chinese Exclusion Act to firmly establish that birthright citizenship is enshrined in the 14th Amendment. But Trump would have us return to 1857 of the Dred Scott decision, where citizenship was firmly locked by white supremacy. Out of the legal mind of crackpot scholar John Eastman, Trump’s promise is unlikely to come to fruition, but its absurdity shouldn’t dismiss the true egregiousness of this campaign promise from the leading Republican presidential candidate. The hostile blood and soil politics are thinly veiled, but no one should be lulled to how potently dangerous the idea Trump is peddling. Discussing the origins of fascist ideas Umberto Eco wrote: “It would be so much easier, for us, if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, ‘I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Black Shirts to parade again in the Italian squares.’ Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances—every day, in every part of the world.” 
  • Attacking Legal Channels with White Nationalist Conspiracies: The right-wing has complained about the CBP One app since its inception, but the complaints are not about how the app has been riddled with errors, or its potential to unjustly limit access to the asylum process. No, the right is upset because the app worked for some non-white migrants. A telling Breitbart headline from this week reads, “Biden’s Migrant Mobile App Frees 80K Foreign Nationals into U.S. in 4 Months.” Stripped of context the “Biden’s Migrant Mobile App” is a line that will likely continue to pepper political attacks over the next 18 months. (Harkens back to the disinformation around the “Obama Phone” that was actually a decades-long program.) However, the right is attacking the very thing they pretend to care about, both elevating the pressure at the southern border and on legal channels for entering the United States. Said another way, the Breitbart line attacks legal immigration to create chaos at the border to keep the issue to demagogue. Breitbart ends the article with a recitation of the white nationalist great replacement conspiracy theory, a further extreme that is out of step with the vast majority of the electorate. 
  • Stunts over solutions, GOP governors send troops to Texas in wasteful, dangerous political theater: This week, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin joined five other Republican Governors in a nativist political stunt with his $3.1 million deployment of 100 National Guard soldiers to the southern border in Texas. Youngkin and others falsely assert the troops will help stop the flow of fentany,l when the troops won’t they won’t even be stationed at the ports of entry where the synthetic opioid is trafficked into the country. Instead, Youngkin and his fellow governors are using the National Guard as props to boost their election prospects with a radicalized MAGA base. The cynical nativist politics at play are on full display as the numbers of asylum seekers are down. Nor is this a harmless stunt: Texas’ own National Guard appointment has been an unmitigated disaster, with the stunt further normalizing the threats to attack Mexico and the white nationalist conspiracy theories about an “invasion” at the southern border. Even Axios in a piece about GOP candidates trying to be the most anti-immigrant had to note that “border crossings have fallen dramatically in recent weeks under strict asylum rules just imposed by the Biden administration — making the latest deployments appear more political than practical.”


  • President: Ron DeSantis continues to take a lot of justified heat as his Presidential bid continues its rocky start. This week Floridians lead a massive strike and protest wave across the state against the draconian show-me-your-papers style legalization. Massive protests in your home state are never a good look for a presidential candidate outside the narrow primary base. 
  • TX Legislature: With the close of the Texas legislative session at the end of last week, Texans for Strong Borders dropped a $227K TV ad buy attacking Republican Speaker of the House Dade Phelan for failing to make the white nationalist migrant “invasion” conspiracy theory the official position of the state. A racist lie that it is always worth remembering was the motivation behind the domestic terrorist who murdered 23 people in El Paso, as well as the inspiration for several other deadly terrorist attacks in recent years.
  • NJ Legislature: Ahead of the June 6 primary next week, the Republicans in the SD-26 race are trading nativist TV ads, attacking each other for being insufficiently cruel and anti-immigrant. Incumbent Joe Pennacchio has an ad accusing Tom Mastrangelo of repeatedly voting “to provide free tuition to those here illegally.” Meanwhile, Mastrangelo is running an ad claiming Pennacchio used “our tax money to fund benefits for illegal immigrants” using a clip from 2018 of immigrants fleeing teargas.