Washington, DC – One way of looking at the House Judiciary Committee hearing featuring the testimony of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is as a microcosm of ongoing relentless Republican politicized extremism on immigration. Today’s hearing – and its role in the GOP’s proposed sham impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas – arrives in the midst of several immigration and border-related storylines of note, including the enjoinment of the Biden administration’s asylum ban and ongoing denunciation of Gov. Greg Abbott and the dehumanizing anti-immigrant cruelty on display in Texas.
Below are five key points and things to watch:
- Will House Republicans on the Judiciary Committee continue to use white nationalist conspiracy rhetoric? New analysis details the scope of Republican mainstreaming of dangerous “invasion” and “replacement” falsehoods. Updated analysis from America’s Voice has identified more than 80 examples of Republican Members of the 118th Congress amplifying the white nationalist “invasion” conspiracy theory in their official capacity. Eleven Members of the House Judiciary Committee alone – the committee holding today’s Mayorkas hearing – have peddled this dangerous white nationalist conspiracy theory this year in their official capacity. This despite the links to real world incidents of deadly violence associated with white nationalist conspiracies. And this despite the reality that domestic extremists – predominantly right wing violent extremists – pose the greatest lethal terrorism threat to the U.S. per our government’s own assessments. Yet Republicans are intent to impeach the cabinet secretary tasked with protecting our homeland, while basing their supposed case on immigration falsehoods, using the many of the same talking points as the domestic extremists themselves. Read the new America’s Voice backgrounder with updated statistics and examples of GOP usage of white nationalist conspiracies here.
- Will Republicans acknowledge their apocalyptic predictions about the border after Title 42 got it all wrong? Or will they merely continue their pre-baked political attacks and lies on the Biden administration and immigration? As Vanessa Cárdenas recently wrote in an op-ed: “…contrary to right-wing and GOP apocalyptic predictions about the end of Title 42 pandemic-era immigration policies, the number of migrants encountered at the border has plummeted. While the factors behind the drop in crossings are many, including restrictions I do not support, it’s a data point that Republicans should be celebrating, given their supposed priorities. Yet, they are continuing their political attacks as if their predictions of post-Title 42 chaos had come true.” Of note, Republicans are continuing a political attack that GOP and right wing leaders started even before Biden was in office, when they blamed Biden’s immigration policies for a rise in border encounters occurring during the Trump presidency.
- Will Republicans mischaracterize the immediate implications of yesterday’s ruling enjoining Biden’s asylum ban and will they (along with reporters and pundits covering immigration) continue to portray the asylum ban/restrictions as the sole reason border encounter numbers have plummeted after the lifting of Title 42? Yesterday’s ruling by Judge Tigar enjoining the Biden administration asylum ban (see the reaction from Vanessa Cárdenas here) does not mean the asylum restrictions will immediately end – unfortunately to our eyes. The administration’s appeals and ongoing legal procedures will likely keep the current restrictions in place for the foreseeable future. Yet we expect some Republicans to use the ruling as a chance to misinform, continuing the GOP’s claim that we have “open borders” – a falsehood that has been the cornerstone of Republican immigration misinformation in recent years. We should reject simplistic analysis that claims the asylum restrictions alone are the reason that Republicans’ apocalyptic predictions about the end of Title 42 haven’t come to pass. The drop in border encounters is attributable to a number of factors, including the end of the recidivism brought by Title 42 itself, channels toward ports of entry, seasonal fluctuations and new safe and orderly pathways that help alleviate border pressures.
- Will any Republicans defend or denounce the dehumanized and political cruelty on display in Texas? The horrific details of Texas state troopers deployed by Gov. Greg Abbott denying water to pregnant women and pushing children back into the Rio Grande and the accompanying dangers of deployed razor wire are unconscionable. Will any Republicans denounce or defend these policies? It has been reported that 14 GOP-led states have also sent troopers to Texas to assist Abbott. Meanwhile, as Vanessa Cárdenas noted this week, “While investigations should proceed to ensure accountability for those responsible for the horrors near the Rio Grande, we also need to fight against the other fronts of the GOP’s all-out nativist assault on our values and its dangerous implications for our country,” including the sham impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas.
- Do Republicans have any solutions or realistic ways of addressing migration or are they continuing efforts to blow up solutions, obstruct progress and divide voters? This is impeachment over policy differences, but it is unclear if Republicans actually have any policy ideas to put on the table – other than failed and cruel deterrence-only measures – and if any are mentioned in the hearing. The opponents of immigration prefer chaos and obstruction, designed to keep a sense of crisis involving non-white immigrants in the headlines and portraying “us” as under siege from threatening invaders. But this is not a governing strategy aimed at creating more order or greater legality. Rather it is pure politics, designed to divide and agitate.