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All Politics, No Solutions: GOP Lies and Ugliness in Overdrive on Title 42

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Washington, DC – Even judged by their usual standards, Republican candidates and elected officials have been shameless in their attempts to politicize the decision to lift Title 42 restrictions. They are using lies and scare tactics in hopes of motivating white grievance voters and dividing Democrats. They are even blaming fentanyl trafficking – lethal drugs smuggled through ports of entry in commercial vehicles and passenger cars – on asylum-seekers who willingly present themselves to border authorities in between ports of entry in order to pursue refugee status. It’s all cheap politics and political stunts. 

See below for several choice examples of Republicans’ politicization of these issues on display this week:

  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott seeks to fundraise off his announced stunt to bus migrants to Washington, DC. Yesterday, Gov. Abbott continued his relentless push to politicize immigration and border issues by announcing plans to bus migrants to Washington, DC. After stoking fears about what lifting the failed Title 42 policy would mean, Governor Abbott announced plans to “place state troopers in riot gear to meet migrants at the border and bus them straight to the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington,” as the Texas Tribune explained. After the initial announcement – and facing obvious legal blowback for what would be a blatantly illegal effort across state lines – Governor Abbott noted the scheme would be “voluntary.” But note that he moved forward on a fundraising appeal just a few hours after his press conference, writing to supporters “Texas is dropping off Biden’s illegal immigrants in Washington DC … will you RUSH A CONTRIBUTION NOW?” 
  • Tennessee Senator Bill Hagerty votes against anti-fentanyl funding, then blames Biden plan to lift Title 42 for rise in fentanyl. 99% of fentanyl and other drug seizures happen at our ports of entry because drug traffickers smuggle their deadly product in trucks and cars – not on the backs of asylum seekers who want to be apprehended so they can apply for protection. Only 15% of commercial vehicles and only 2% of passenger cars are currently inspected. But Senator Hagerty and most in the GOP voted against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included $3.6 billion to dramatically improve vehicle and biometric screenings for narcotics and other security threats, filling staffing vacancies at ports, and creating a modern and integrated information technology system. No matter – Senator Hagerty is trying to blame Biden and blame migrants and asylum seekers for the rise in fentanyl, despite a year-over-year rise in fentanyl deaths in Tennessee since 2016. It’s an example of the hypocritical and ugly lies on the topic that are all too common among Republicans.
  • Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance embraces white nativist “great replacement theory” in reaction to Title 42 announcement and war in Ukraine. As Greg Sargent of the Washington Post explores, “No, you must not get distracted by that distant skirmish between foreigners. The invasion that truly matters is occurring at our southern border. You see, President Biden is permitting desperate adult migrants to apply for refuge again, after using a bogus public health rationale to keep them out. That’s the real emergency. Vance introduced a new version of this idea at a debate among Ohio Republican Senate candidates on Tuesday night … There’s a reason these Republicans keep conflating the two borders. The unifying idea is that the U.S. can and should shrug off international obligations, whether they’re to maintaining some semblance of a liberal international order in which authoritarian strongmen cannot violently annex democratic self-determining nations, or to allowing migrants to seek refuge here.”
  • Republicans continue to employ white nationalist conspiracy theories, such as “invasion” and “replacement” rhetoric, to warn about the return to the regular order of the asylum system. For example, on April 2, former President Donald Trump falsely warned that ending Title 42 would mean America would be “invaded by millions and millions of people.” Third-ranking House Republican, Elise Stefanik again waded into this racist conspiracy theory and wrote “Ending Title 42 will worsen the already catastrophic invasion at our Southern Border. Joe Biden and his Far Left policies are destroying our country.” Stephen Miller claimed, “This will mean armageddon on the border. This is how nations end.” And National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd, a sought-after voice for Republicans, appeared on a segment with Fox News on April 4, where he said that he believes the effort to end Title 42 is because Democrats are “trying to change the demographics of the electorate; that’s what I believe they’re doing.” Later that evening, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy invited Judd to a roundtable hearing and offered no criticism of his white nationalist comments. Check out ongoing examples of Republicans’ anti-immigrant ads at the America’s Voice GOP Ad Tracker: http://gopadtracker.com/  

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice: 

For the GOP, the border is all politics, no solutions. All Republicans have to offer are ugly attack ads, ‘open borders’ falsehoods, and the same cruel and chaotic policies that Trump and Stephen Miller advanced. 

To Democrats, we ask that you stand up for an America that protects its borders and its values. Don’t aid and abet the Republican drive to end asylum. Yes, the administration should manage the expected increase as the weather warms and smugglers recruit, and if you don’t think the plan is strong enough, get in there and help make it stronger.

Democrats can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can have a secure border and a fair and functional asylum system. We can be humane and orderly. Let’s be who we are as a party and a nation, rather than emboldening a party that seeks to dehumanize immigrants and refugees to score political points.