tags: Press Releases

Democrats Push Back on Republicans’ Shameful Embrace of Dangerous Anti-Immigrant “Invasion” Messaging

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House Democrats Calling Out and Exposing Rep. Elise Stefanik, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Larger GOP’s Craven Xenophobic Strategy

Washington, DC – Last fall, the third-ranking House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) embraced the “great replacement theory” in her campaign’s ads. She adopted the idea that Democrats are seeking to replace White Americans with non-white immigrants. Rep. Stefanik’s journey into nationalist conspiracy theories resulted in a number of articles in national media: Washington Post on September 27: “How Republicans learned to stop worrying and embrace ‘replacement theory’ — by name”; MSNBC also on September 27: “Republicans become more brazen about embracing ‘replacement theory’”; and CNN, September 30, 2021: “Fringe conspiracy theory has now become mainstream”. 

The major paper in her region of New York, the Albany Times-Union ran an editorial titled, “How Low, Ms. Stefanik,” and got right to the point: “Back in 2017, white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Va., carrying torches and chanting, ‘You will not replace us’ and ‘Jews will not replace us.’ Decent Americans recoiled at the undeniable echo of Nazi Germany.” 

Undeterred, Rep. Stefanik is now embracing another dangerous and ugly anti-immigrant message: the immigrant “invasion.” This week, she used the term “invasion” to describe what’s happening on the border while a guest on Steve Bannon‘s podcast and also on the floor of the House. That rhetoric was originally concocted by white nationalist John Tanton, who founded the leading anti-immigrant organizations. This rhetoric has already inspired mass-murderers in two American cities – El Paso and Pittsburgh – a fact James Downie from the Washington Post recently recounted in a column blasting House Republicans’ irresponsibility, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX):

“That ‘invasion’ language — a favorite of Trump and white supremacists — has led to bloodshed before. In 2019, a gunman killed 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso after posting an anti-Latino manifesto in which he said the attack was a response to ‘the Hispanic invasion of Texas.’ And lest anyone doubt the partisan component of this hatred, the shooter also expressed fears that changing demographics would “make us a Democrat stronghold.”

This week, several House Democrats pushed back against that ugliness. At a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) stated:

“Our nation also has a history of political opportunists who attack the latest wave of immigrants and seek to stoke fear and chaos in order to gain or cling to power. Whether those attacks were made against my ancestors, the Irish, yours, Secretary, from Cuba, those coming to our southern border today, or so many other groups in between, we’ve heard the same language and scare tactics. But then and now, those attacks are a sham, vile, attention-seeking, to divide and distract us from their opponents’ lack of seriousness, their lack of solutions and even, at times, their own misconduct.” 

In a floor speech rebutting the use of “invasion” language by another GOP member of Congress, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said:

“The United States of America witnessed the most astonishing spectacle. We are here to debate aid to the people of Ukraine defending themselves against a massive invasion by Vladimir Putin and his army. Then, the minority puts up the distinguished gentlelady from Georgia who does not mention Ukraine once. She does not mention the thousands of Ukrainian civilians who have been slaughtered by Putin’s army. She does not mention more than 100 Ukrainian children who have been shot and killed by the [Russian] army.

Instead, she talks about a massive invasion at the border, a massive invasion which their own speakers have said today, hundreds of thousands of people have been apprehended in. That’s very different from a military invasion. The one in Ukraine? Of course the gentlelady’s not going to talk about that…..

…The gentlelady talked about a massive invasion. We had a massive invasion of our own chamber and she continued to be a cheerleader for the insurrection and deny what happened here.”

Mario Carrillo, America’s Voice Texas-based Campaigns Director, issued the following statement, 

If Elise Stefanik and her colleagues like Mike McCaul and Marjorie Taylor Greene insist on using the dangerous ‘invasion’ language, they should see first-hand the violence that it’s led to. The next time Republicans are doing another stunt on the border, they should stop in my hometown of El Paso and visit The Healing Garden memorial at Ascarate Park and honor the 23 people murdered by a gunman who said he drove nine hours to El Paso to stop a ‘Hispanic invasion.’

Republicans don’t offer solutions for immigration reform. As El Paso’s U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar said at a Capitol Hill press conference yesterday, the Republicans won’t work with Democrats on reform ‘because the status quo works for them’ and ‘helps them push this xenophobic rage machine that will help them get elected and reelected.’ Representative Escobar is exactly right. 

Yesterday, the Secretary of Homeland Security stated during a hearing that ‘domestic violent extremism poses the greatest terrorism related threat’ to our nation. Yet, Republicans only get more extreme with rhetoric that inspires domestic violent extremism without any thought of possible consequences. It’s despicable, dangerous, and literally deadly.