Washington, DC – Yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing felt more like a competition among Republican Senators to see who could spread more lies or be more vulgar. Rather than use the opportunity to question Secretary Mayorkas on the threat of domestic terrorism from white nationalists or solutions to immigration policies, Republicans on the committee used their allotted time to launch attacks supported by conspiracy theories and misinformation. The behavior by these Senators was deplorable, particularly in light of the tragic fire in Juarez – an example of the lethal consequences of their favored enforcement-only approach.
As Mayorkas heads back to the Capitol Hill to appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee, here is a reminder of some of lies being pushed by the GOP:
- On fentanyl: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) called the facts and statistics that show that almost all fentanyl entering the U.S. is trafficked through legal ports of entry alongside commercial traffic largely by U.S. citizens, a “made up number.” Meanwhile, Lindsay Graham (R-SC), inappropriately compared fentanyl to military attacks and suggested a military response from the U.S. saying “what I would say: America is under attack. Our nation is being attacked by foreign powers called drug cartels in Mexico… I want to break the backs of these cartels, using military force if necessary …I would tell the Mexican government: If you don’t clean up your act, we’re going to clean it up for you.”
- On asylum seekers from China: Both Sen. Cornyn and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) pushed anti-Chinese immigrant conspiracies about Chinese nationals seeking asylum along the southern border as being undercover spies for the Chinese government. An absurd bigoted conspiracy that is growing in popularity among Republicans and right-wing media.
- On human trafficking: Without evidence, Sen. Ted Cruz claimed migrant children were being sold into “sex slavery” under Secretary Mayorkas’ watch. As Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, the Policy Director at the American Immigration Council, wrote in response, “The answer to Ted Cruz’s outrageous question about how many children have been sold into sex slavery is very likely near zero. It’s just not a thing. What actually happens is that children are FLEEING the threat of sexual slavery in their home countries!”
- On “operational control”: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) pushed the disingenuous attack line about “operational control” that is an element of the Republicans’ line of attack for a sham impeachment push against Secretary Mayorkas. But as the New York Times reports: “The Border Patrol has long used a different standard of “operational control” that is defined as “the ability to detect, respond and interdict border penetrations in areas deemed as high priority” — one that Mr. Mayorkas suggested he had been referring to in his previous testimony.”
- On the CBP One app: Focused more on a right-wing headline than the accuracy of his remarks, Sen. Hawley accused Secretary Mayorkas of building “Ticketmaster for illegal immigrants,” falsely asserting that the app – plagued with errors and criticism – admits anyone in without screening or checks. In reality, the app designed to give people a safer way to access the U.S. asylum system than putting themselves in the hands of smugglers is under attack by Republicans in the Senate and in the courts precisely because it create an orderly path for migration that runs counter to the GOP’s preferred attack lines around chaos and disorder.
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
“Spreading misinformation has become so commonplace in today’s Republican Party that we are all almost numb to it, however, it remains important to call out their misleading political attacks. Nowadays, when most of the GOP Members of Congress speak publicly on immigration they spread conspiracy theories, elevate white nationalist ideology, or dehumanize and degrade migrants seeking refuge rather than participate in substantive legislative discussion. Republican Senators had a chance to engage meaningfully with the Homeland Security Secretary to gain valuable insights on the challenges of immigration and national security, including the nation’s greatest and most lethal threat, that of white nationalist domestic terrorism. Instead, they made it their priority to get a sound bite on Fox News, which is now their regular approach and a sad spectacle for the GOP.”