Sen. Cornyn and Sen. Cruz’s “political stunt only serves to court more political violence”
Washington, DC – Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said “open borders” would be one of the top issues for GOP Senators in the midterms. Always playing follow the leader, Republicans are running with the advice: the GOP is tweeting three times more about the border than the decision to overturn Roe and tweeting nearly twice as often about migrants as they did about the Jan. 6 committee in the last two weeks.
Of course, Republican Senators have not offered any policy suggestions to address the nation’s broken immigration system. Instead, they demagogue the issue.
Never ones to pass up an opportunity to divide and distract voters, Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz dutifully announced they will lead a Senate delegation to the southern border today. This isn’t the first time they’ve arranged similar political expeditions to the border. A delegation of 19 GOP Senators last year engaged in photo ops on gunboats in the Rio Grande. Since then, dozens of other Republicans have headed down to the border to shoot footage for their campaign ads.
Before the torrent of rhetoric, misinformation, and straight-up lies coming from the Senators’ presser, here are five quick facts about the border.
- The Border is NOT open. Under no reasonable factual basis can you suggest that the border is “open” as Republicans ceaselessly accuse. Under Biden, almost 80% of those encountered by authorities at the border have been immediately removed, put in detention, or in the case of children, put in a government-run or contracted shelter. For the 20% “released,” almost all show up in court, 83% of non-detained immigrants show up for all of their hearings in what is often a multi-year process, while 96% of those with legal representation do. It is significantly harder to cross the border without detection and apprehension today than it was just a decade ago, with DHS estimates for detection and interdiction in FY2021 at the highest rate recorded to date. Meanwhile, despite the apocalyptic rhetoric from many Republicans, immigration is, in fact, way down, with net immigration to the U.S. just 25% of what it was five years ago.
- There ISN’T an “invasion.” The white nationalist conspiracy that claims refugees and asylum seekers constitute an “invasion,” is a lie. There is no factual or legal rationale for naming and treating migrants as an “invasion” as Governor Greg Abbott has done or as many other Republicans have rhetorically claimed.
- Their rhetoric is dangerous and already has a body count. Just yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted a version of the ‘white replacement’ lie and connected it to the so-called “Biden Border Crisis.” The ‘replacement’ and ‘invasion’ conspiracies have already inspired multiple terrorist attacks in El Paso, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Christchurch. When politicians echo these dehumanizing lies they normalize them, encouraging more violence. Furthermore, the Senators will be getting a briefing from the National Border Patrol Council, whose president, Brandon Judd, was recently featured in USA Today article headlined, ‘Replacement theory’ fuels extremists and shooters. Now a top Border Patrol agent is spreading it.
- Overdose deaths from fentanyl is a complex multi-issue problem but is NOT an immigration issue. 99% of all drugs are brought in through ports of entry in commercial vehicles and passenger cars, not in the backpacks of migrants crossing on foot and looking to present themselves to Border Patrol agents in order to apply for asylum. As political historian and author of “The Drug Wars In America,” Kathleen Frydl wrote in The Hill, “While it is true that the majority of fentanyl bound for the United States comes from Mexico, the organizations that traffic in it do not risk their product on desperate people facing steep odds and a dangerous crossing. Instead, fentanyl comes to the United States via ostensibly legal crossings at designated ports of entry.” As Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) smartly proposes: “Instead of spending billions of dollars on building a border wall, scapegoating migrants and blustery rhetoric, we must invest in science backed methods to address this very real public health threat. We should focus on enhanced screening methods for mail and increased resources for our overburdened ports of entries so they can target the concealment of fentanyl.” Notably, all the Republicans participating in the border stunt voted against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included the $430 million to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the construction and modernization of land ports of entry.
- A cruelty and deterrence-only strategy will only lead to tragedy, when long overdue reform is what is needed. No one should mistake the intent of this event. It’s pure politics. For thirty years, Republicans have blocked every serious effort at immigration reform, usually hiding behind some unachievable border security goal. They don’t want solutions, they want an issue for campaign ads. Senator John Cornyn has perfected the art of feigning interest in legislation, then torpedoing any possibility. We call that the “Cornyn Con.” Recently, Cornyn was even more craven. He recently suggested to reporters, in the presence of Senator Kyrsten Sinema, that a bipartisan deal on immigration was possible. After he got criticized for that GOP heresy, he ran to right-wing media to say that was a “joke.” Republicans don’t offer solutions and only use the border as a wedge issue. And that’s no joke.
According to Zachary Mueller America’s Voice Political Director:
“From top to bottom, Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz’s border visit should be viewed for what it is: a Republican political campaign event – and a dangerous one at that. We will hear more lies and misinformation that will put both migrants and U.S. citizens at risk. Their political stunt only serves to court more political violence and incite the well-armed men already harassing migrants at the border.
We have seen from the January 6th Select Committee how Trump’s rhetoric sent a mob to the Capitol. When Republican leaders stoke violence, some of their followers deliver. With that in mind, it is important we call out the danger of Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. John Cornyn heading down to the border. We want every Republican Senator to know that they are engaging in rhetoric that has a growing death toll and one of the worst examples happened in El Paso just three years ago. After what has happened not only in El Paso but recently in Buffalo and on January 6, 2021, at the United States Capitol, you would think these senators would have learned a lesson. They clearly haven’t and are willing to fan the flames of political violence for their own short-term selfish politics.
The one bit of advice we’d give to these Republican Senators: charge your phones in advance since you’re going to be recording “dramatic” video like Cruz did on his last boat ride adventure. Especially, because the Texas power grid is very unreliable these days. Like all of you, Governor Abbott is too busy spewing the same kind of dangerous messaging to worry about issues like a failed power grid that actually impact the lives of millions of Texans.”