Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson’s elevation to House Speaker marks the ascent of one of the most far-right Congressional Republicans to one of the most powerful positions in the federal government. Speaker Johnson has gone further than many of his nativist colleagues, on reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and on immigration. The fact that the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a notorious anti-immigrant hate group founded by late eugenicist John Tanton, immediately praised his candidacy for House Speaker speaks volumes.
The admiration is mutual: Johnson spoke at an event organized by the anti-immigrant hate group and had effusive praise for the organization’s executive director. Speaker Johnson was the star guest at a 2021 panel organized CIS and its director, Mark Krikorian, “to discuss the U.S. asylum system and propose ways to close the loopholes that encourage the fraudulent asylum claims swamping both USCIS and the immigration courts,” a release said. Hint: CIS likely believes most claims, particularly when they’re from Black and brown migrants, are fraudulent. “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that,” Tanton wrote in 1993. Krikorian, meanwhile, once claimed that Haiti was “so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough,” the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said. Krikorian had a meltdown back in 2017 when SPLC designated his organization an anti-immigrant hate group, claiming that CIS had only “occasionally” distributed white nationalist content. A deeper dive from SPLC and Center for New Community revealed that “occasionally” turned out to be more than 2,000 times. But Speaker Johnson had nothing but good words for Krikorian during 2021’s panel discussion, SPLC noted. “It’s just such important work that you all are doing right now,” Speaker Johnson told him.
Johnson has repeatedly elevated white nationalist “great replacement” and “invasion” conspiracy theories that are directly linked to multiple acts of deadly violence. Speaker Johnson has endorsed the dangerous and vile white nationalist great replacement theory that now grips the GOP and has been connected to deadly domestic terror attacks in U.S. cities, including El Paso, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Charlottesville. In fact, “Johnson has gone farther than most of his Republican colleagues in elevating alarmist and dangerous rhetoric,” America’s Voice Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas recently told The Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent. In one claim, Speaker Johnson said the Biden administration and Democrats are “intentionally” encouraging unauthorized migration in order “to turn all these illegals into voters for their side.” Sargent noted that AV “has not documented any comparable rhetoric in Johnson’s predecessor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy.” Research compiled by AV Political Associate Yuna Oh revealed Speaker Johnson reciting these dangerous white nationalist “invasion” and “replacement” lies in official releases, social media accounts, Congressional hearings, and during appearances on right-wing media outlets.
Johnson condemned the popular and successful program protecting Dreamers as “unconstitutional,” and supported sharply restricting birthright citizenship. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is one of the most successful and popular immigration policies in recent history, allowing hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to work legally, pursue higher education, and live free from the threat of deportation. But in 2019, the Republican Study Committee, a Congressional group then chaired by Speaker Johnson, issued a 2020 budget report that slammed DACA as “unconstitutional executive amnesty” that Congress needed to end. The report also supported sharply limiting birthright citizenship “to someone born of at least one U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States,” and offensively suggested that undocumented parents knowingly bear children here as a means to attain citizenship. Revoking birthright citizenship was once a fringe position supported by the likes of racist former Congressman Steve King, who once wondered aloud what was so bad about the term “white nationalist.” Today, ending birthright citizenship is the position of leading GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has claimed he will end it on the first day of his term through executive order. “Trump’s promise is unlikely to come to fruition,” America’s Voice Political Director Zachary Mueller said, “but its absurdity shouldn’t dismiss the true egregiousness of this campaign promise from the leading Republican presidential candidate.”
Johnson endorsed mass deportation by voting against legalization for millions of undocumented immigrants, and vocally supported keeping anti-asylum policy in place. Speaker Johnson voted against legislation that would have created a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants left at risk of deportation under the nativist policies of former President Trump. The American Dream and Promise Act would have permanently protected millions of DACA recipients and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders who saw their relief cruelly and senselessly rescinded under pressure from Stephen Miller, a noted white nationalist and former Trump aide. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, meanwhile, would have created a pathway to legalization for workers who are the backbone of the farming industry and put food on tables in Louisiana and across the U.S. Yet Speaker Johnson voted against both proposals numerous times, first in 2019 and then again in 2021. Speaker Johnson has also been a fierce defender of the ineffective Title 42 policy, which was implemented under political pressure by the Trump administration and against the advice of public health experts. “After the Biden administration tried to phase out Title 42 in spring 2022, Speaker Johnson filed an amicus brief in support of a Republican-led lawsuit blocking the measure. In a statement about the lawsuit, Johnson claimed Biden is ‘intentionally allowing the destruction of our country,’” SPLC said.
Johnson voted for the Child Detention Act. Speaker Johnson has been a fervent supporter of H.R. 2, anti-immigrant legislation that’s more accurately known as the Child Detention Act. As previously described by America’s Voice, the Child Detention Act is the stuff of Miller’s dreams, proposing a grab-bag of cruel, unworkable and extreme policies that would effectively shut down our current U.S. asylum system, increase child and family detention, restart the cruel and unlawful “Remain in Mexico” policy, and do nothing to address our broken immigration system. One purposefully cruel provision would create a show-me-your-papers scenario in the midst of future natural disaster relief efforts. The Child Detention Act was really just created as a fundraising and political tool, as Mueller has previously noted, yet Speaker Johnson has continued to tout it as a legitimate solution to our outdated immigration system. “House Republicans already passed HR 2 – the most comprehensive border security legislation in decades,” he claimed in October. “The Senate should take it up immediately.” That Senate Republicans have done little to advance the bill since its May passage also speaks volumes about its extremism.
“The elevation of Mike Johnson to Speaker of the House would encapsulate the ongoing descent of the Republican Party into a paranoid, extreme, fearful, conspiratorial, nativist, and anti-democratic party,” Mueller warned following news that Johnson would be entering the speaker’s race. House Republicans would subsequently elect Johnson by a unanimous vote. “So-called GOP moderates and those Members from congressional districts carried by President Biden or with significant numbers of immigrant voters should be on notice about the choice they have and the scope and consequences of elevating Mike Johnson into the presidential line of succession,” Mueller continued.