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From the Top GOP Leadership to Border Vigilantes, Chilling Echoes of Past Extremist Violence on Display by Reckless Politicians

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Washington, DC — We’ve been tracking the potential right-wing violence and vigilantism at the border sparked by the Texas government’s refusal to give the federal government full access to the U.S. Mexico border and the inextricable ties to dangerous white nationalist conspiracies.

Yesterday, at a Take Our Borders Back rally in Dripping Springs, Texas, a speaker named Michael Yon took the stage and yelled into the microphone that the “invasion” is “being funded with Jewish money.” Yon explicitly named the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) as “funding” the invasion. This version of the “replacement” lie is disturbingly similar to the claims of the white nationalist antisemite who attacked the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Before murdering 11 people in 2019, the shooter wrote online, “HIAS likes to bring invaders that kill our people.” Yon also shared the stage with Republican elected officials on Thursday, such as former Governor of Alaska and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Chris Burr, a board member of the Republican Party of Texas, and Texas State Rep. Carrie Isaac.

But, as you’ll see below, fearmongering and using this type of violence-inspiring conspiracy theory rhetoric is invited from the top of the Republican Party, from the Speaker of the House to Senators to state officials. 

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“It started with Donald Trump, but now Governor Abbott, Speaker Johnson, Chairman Green, Senator Cruz, Rep. Stefanik, and far too many other electeds are actively courting more deadly violence. When politicians incite their followers to take action against what they are framing as an existential threat to the country, there is a horrifically predictable result. From the top down, GOP leaders know exactly the consequences of their actions. Make no mistake: they do not get to play willfully ignorant of the serious public safety threat they are creating. Not after January 6. Not after the El Paso Walmart, the Tops Grocery in Buffalo, or the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This is not tough talk about migrants and the border, it is coded white nationalist, antisemitic, and conspiratorial rhetoric that puts a target on the backs of all Americans who might fall victim to some well-armed follower taking matters into their own hands. We all must be unequivocal in our condemnation of this rhetoric and clear-eyed about its consequences.”

Just this week, Republicans in Washington, DC and Texas were busy mainstreaming and using similar invasion and replacement conspiracies as embraced by the speaker at yesterday’s rally. For example:

  • Speaker Mike Johnson goes for maximum fear in floor speech, as Washington Post columnist Phillip Bump points out. “Speaker Johnson, in his first floor speech since becoming speaker, spoke of his conversations with border agents, saying ‘They noted that we are experiencing a surge — listen to this — of military-aged single men who are pouring into our country over the southern border. From adversarial nations, by the way, and from terrorist regimes.’” As Bump notes, “It’s all framing: Johnson wants listeners to hear the phrase ‘military aged’ and assume that the immigrants are dangerous and intend to harm Americans. Had he said ‘working aged,’ the reaction would have been very different — and evoked very different, more common perceptions of immigrants.”
  • House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY): “Our country is experiencing a full-fledged invasion, with illegal immigrants pouring across our borders in record numbers encouraged by Joe Biden’s open border policies.”
  • Texas Senator Ted Cruz mainstreaming both invasion and the great replacement theory: “Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, & Chuck Schumer want an invasion at the southern border since they view every illegal alien as a potential Democrat voter. It is unacceptable that they are risking the safety of Americans to pursue their political goals.”
  • Houston Chronicle, “Texas Republicans are ratcheting up talk of a border invasion. Critics worry it will incite violence,” noting: “Once-fringe warnings of an ‘invasion’ are now core to the state leaders’ arguments that Texas has the right to take over immigration enforcement long left solely to the federal government … Groups monitoring extremism say it is a potentially dangerous moment, as some on the far right have latched onto the standoff as a sort of call to arms.”
  • The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank also called out House Republicans in his Friday column, noting that in their efforts to impeach Jewish Cuban-American refugee Alejandro Mayorkas are also pumping maximum fear and leaning into the “replacement” conspiracy: “[Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark] Green also previously invoked ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory, divining that Mayorkas’s ‘intent’ was to ‘fundamentally change the population of the United States, and I believe to empower the Democrat Party in perpetuity.’” And Milbank notes that during the hearing, “Republicans were scary: ‘Murder.’ ‘Murder!’ ‘MS-13.’ ‘Killed. ‘Rot and perish.’ ‘Smuggler.’ ‘Trafficker.’”
  • In perhaps the most damning headline on this topic, Christopher Mathis writes in the Huffington Post, “A White Supremacist Killed Her Dad In El Paso. Now, GOP Politicians Sound Like The Shooter: “Now, when Meg Juarez checks the news, almost every Republican politician and right-wing pundit sounds like the man who shot her parents. They’re talking about an ‘invasion’ at the border and the ‘great replacement’ of white voters wrought by immigration. ‘That language that they continue to use, which is fear-mongering and demonizing immigrants, is just stripping people of their humanity,’ Meg Juarez told HuffPost this week. ‘When they use that language, it dehumanizes these folks, and that’s how we got somebody to go to El Paso and shoot immigrants because he thought that he was protecting something.’”