tags: Press Releases

Ghost Flights and Bus Rides: The False, Dangerous and Costly GOP Efforts Continue to Portray Immigrants as Threats

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Washington, DC – The relentless Republican assault on immigrants as scary threats is a nativist narrative filled with dangerous lies and comes with a steep cost. It’s all politics and the peddling of hate, designed to mobilize its base and fundraise off fear. 

Joel Rose of NPR sheds light on GOP disinformation with a piece titled, ‘Ghost flights’ are the latest GOP effort to weaponize immigration ahead of midterms::

“Republicans accuse the Biden administration of organizing secret flights, carrying migrants from the border to communities across the country, that critics have branded ‘ghost flights.’ But that rhetoric is often at odds with the facts.

…When children and teenagers from Central America cross the border alone, the federal government is required by law to care for them until they’re reunited with a sponsor, often a parent or relative, or placed in a network of special shelters around the U.S.

To do that, federal officials sometimes fly those children on charter planes from the border to other parts of the country. For years, this was widely seen as normal, even routine. Until it wasn’t.

With border arrests at the highest levels on record, Republicans see immigration as a potent line of attack in midterm elections this fall. And some are seeking to weaponize basic operations of the immigration system that had rarely attracted attention before — including flights carrying unaccompanied children around the country.”

The definitive fact check comes from Aaron Reichlin-Melnick at the American Immigration Council in his article for the Immigration Impact Blog, Biden’s ‘Secret’ Flights of Migrants Debunked as a Routine Part of the US Immigration System.

Shifting from airplanes to buses, local outlets in Texas are highlighting the costs of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s stunt to bus migrants to Washington, DC. The Dallas/Fort Worth NBC affiliate reporting, Abbott’s Border Buses Cost $1,400+ Per Rider, Taxpayers Could be Stuck With Bills:

“…the cost of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to bus undocumented immigrants from the border to Washington D.C. has cost more than $1,400 per rider so far. It’s a price tag that is higher than the cost of a first class plane ticket from some Texas border towns to the nation’s capital. 

The documents, obtained through an open records request to the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), show busing costs exceeded $1.6 million in April and May, and the total bill may be higher. The records suggest the state has not received invoices for all of the trip expenses yet. Passenger logs TDEM provided show 1,154 passengers were transported in the early months of the program. That means the approximate per-passenger cost has been at least $1,442.”

The following is a statement from Mario Carrillo, Texas-based Campaigns Director of America’s Voice:

“The Republican Party will pay any price in terms of wasted taxpayer dollars and sacrifice the truth to demonize immigrants as the greatest problem facing America today. At a time when immigrants are the backbone of many aspects of our economy, from agriculture to healthcare to construction, one would think the GOP would put the economy and welfare of all Americans first during this time of economic uncertainty. But the Republicans’ relentless effort to peddle fear around immigrants and immigration, filled with lies, is always their top priority. This disinformation is dangerous, even deadly. Both the ‘ghost flights’ and Abbott’s bus stunt exemplify the GOP ugliness. They rely on the same notion of ‘scary brown people’ at the heart of the Republicans’ inflammatory rhetoric regarding ‘invasion’ and ‘white replacement’ conspiracies. 

As craven GOP politicians like Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis strain to outdo each other on who can leverage taxpayer money to paint themselves as the most extreme candidates in their animosity toward asylum seekers, this ugly disinformation increases the likelihood that unstable followers will act on this hate and fear. We have seen just that in the attacks on innocent people in Charlottesville, El Paso, Pittsburgh and Buffalo where murderers motivated by “replacement” and “invasion” fears have killed scores of people. 

As our nation faces real threats and most working families continue to struggle to make ends meet, we should expect more from our country’s leaders. Our nation deserves better than these dangerous lies.”