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For 9 Straight Weeks House Republicans Have Used Border Hearings to Push Pernicious Lies and White Nationalist Conspiracies

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On Tuesday, the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability marked the ninth hearing in nine weeks the Republican House majority has held a hearing about the border, but like the previous eight hearings Republicans were only there for political theater and to further promote a nativist narrative riddled with pernicious lies. Instead of legislating or crafting solutions, the hearing was yet more of the same. Republicans performed their anti-immigrant hysterics for the FOX News cameras and pushed pernicious narratives about so-called “open-border” and blamed asylum seekers for fentanyl when the facts show neither is true. 

Republicans have not given any other issue this sort of sustained congressional attention, yet they have made it abundantly clear that their interest only extends to partisan political attacks, hostile to reforms because they believe the xenophobic fearmongering works for them as a fundraising and electoral issue. This cynical Republican posture alone should be a damning indictment. It is much worse. Republicans have continued a disturbing pattern of using the hearings to amplify white nationalist conspiracy theories tied to multiple domestic terrorist attacks. 

Both Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) used the hearing to advance the white nationalist conspiracy theory.

  • Rep. Kelly said, “If they [unathorized migrants] were wearing the uniform of a foreign country, we would think we were being invaded” 
  • Rep. Greene said, “it seems like Canada wants to participate in Mexico’s invasion of the United States.” 

It is also worth noting that the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security this week Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL), too echoed the deadly racist conspiracy. “We allow people to invade our country because we do nothing to stop them,” said Rep. Rutherford.

This language of invasion refers to the white nationalist great replacement conspiracy theory. A racist fiction that has been the inspiration for multiple acts of political violence and domestic terrorism over the last several years. It was chanted in the streets of Charlottesville in 2017, posted online before a man murdered 11 in Pittsburgh in 2018, shared in racist screeds before the murder in Poway and the murder of 23 in El Paso in 2019, believed by those who attacked the Capitol in 2021, and copied by the gunman who killed ten people in Buffalo in May 2022. Dr. Heidi Beirich, the co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, draws a direct connection between the rhetoric and the violence, saying, “When migrants are described as invaders, that leads to violence,” she said. “Because how else does one stop an invasion?” 

Kelly and Greene used the very committee tasked with overseeing threats to the Homeland to amplify white nationalist conspiracy theories tied to domestic terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, the FBI, Attorney General, and Secretary of Homeland Security have all testified that the threat from violent domestic extremists is a leading terrorist concern. In November 2022 and again in December 2022, DHS issued memos warning about threats to migrants and infrastructure at the southern border in response to anti-immigrant-related concerns. 

But rather than address the very real threat of domestic terrorism facing the nation, most Republicans  on the House Homeland Security Committee, have exacerbated the problem by amplifying the white nationalist great replacement conspiracy theory. 

Rep. Kelly also hit a new low in the hearing describing migrants in the extremely dehumanizing terms of an “infestation.” He said:

“…we don’t know who is coming in or who is going out, but we do know the number of deaths. Those deaths from fentanyl. Those deaths are the ones you look at and say, my god, this is somebody’s son or daughter, this is somebody we would love to have in our community, and because of this infestation, it’s corrupting us, it’s ruining us.”

The dehumanizing rhetoric of ‘infestation’ is well beyond policy disagreements, it is extremely dangerous for the kind of racist political violence it courts. And while fentanyl are indeed a tragic and urgent problem  

Republicans also continued their troubling pattern of elevating witnesses with deep ties to hate groups and a history of amplifying the great replacement conspiracy theory. For Tuesday’s hearing Republicans invited Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) Fellow, Andrew Arthur and Border Patrol union president, Brandon Judd.Arthur has worked for the hate group CIS since 2017, advocating that the cruelty and chaos of the Trump administration’s immigration agenda did not go far enough. Meanwhile, Judd is the hard-right leader of the Border Patrol union who has repeatedly promoted the white nationalist “invasion” and “replacement” conspiracy, palled around with hate groups, and participated in a political ad that suggested political violence towards top Democrats.

Read a more detailed analysis of Tuesday’s witness here.  

One Democrat on the Subcommittee, Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-IL), brought the receipts and powerfully called out the hate coming from the witnesses and the Republican members:

“For those of you who don’t know, I am an American. I am also a proud daughter of a woman who crossed the southwest border 40 years ago. And I have to tell you that I have been sitting here with my little scorecard of the number of things that I have heard that almost directly say that my mother and asylum seekers are less than human. I have heard a member, a Republican member, talk about immigrants as an ‘infestation’ and another one call it an ‘invasion’”

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Representation matters! <br><br>Watch <a href=”https://twitter.com/DeliaRamirezIL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@DeliaRamirezIL</a> bring the receipts and push back on the dangerous humanization &amp; the Republican witnesses who traffic in hate. 👏👏👏 <a href=”https://t.co/dmRB1StAOM”>pic.twitter.com/dmRB1StAOM</a></p>&mdash; America&#39;s Voice (@AmericasVoice) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AmericasVoice/status/1640762979640823808?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>March 28, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>