tags: Press Releases

GOP Exacerbates Greatest Terror Threat Facing the Homeland with DHS Secretary Impeachment Push

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Washington, DC – The House Judiciary Committee has hauled the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, to testify – and they won’t be discussing the most pressing domestic threat to the nation’s security: white nationalist extremism. Instead of keeping America safe from real threats, the GOP-led committee will shine its not-reality-TV lights on demonizing immigrants. The hearing is part of the two-year-long ongoing baseless, partisan push to impeach Secretary Mayorkas, undergirded by white nationalist conspiracies about a so-called “invasion” and “replacement.”

This language of invasion refers to the white nationalist great replacement conspiracy theory. A racist fiction that has been the inspiration for multiple acts of political violence and domestic terrorism over the last several years.

As Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said in his opening remarks at today’s hearing with Secretary Mayorkas, “we can draw a straight line from the hateful rhetoric we hear from some congressional Republicans to that [the white nationalist terror attack on El Paso in 2019] tragedy. Our words matter.”

America’s Voice has identified over 80 examples of Republicans in the 118th Congress amplifying the white nationalist “invasion” conspiracy theory in their official capacity. Eleven Members of the Judiciary Committee have peddled this dangerous antisemitic, racist conspiracy theory this year in their official capacity.

Republicans have made echoing the rhetoric of violent domestic extremists a core part of their impeachment message; some examples:

  • On February 17, 2022, Rep. Chip Roy tweeted: “#ImpeachMayorkas #StatesStopInvasion”
  • In a July 2022 op-ed published on Fox News, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) and Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) laid out their case for impeachment, concluding, “Secretary Mayorkas has unquestionably violated his oath of office. He has intentionally invited millions to cross into Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California, violating Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution, which requires the federal government to “protect each of [the states] against invasion.”
  • On February 1, 2023, Rep. Biggs held a press conference to announce he was “filing a new and exhaustive article of impeachment against Sec. Mayorkas. The event was littered with “invasion” rhetoric.
  • On May 13, 2023, Representative Lauren Boebert tweeted: “We’ve seen the video of the Paso Del Norte bridge in El Paso being rushed yesterday. Liberals get bent out of shape when we say our country is being invaded. Even our ports of entries are not secure. Impeach Secretary Mayorkas!”
  • On May 17, 2023, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted: “Our Southern border is being invaded, overrun & ignored. 1000s of illegal aliens, tons of drugs & even terrorists cross our border every day. Secretary Mayorkas is responsible. Today, I’m introducing articles of impeachment to remove him from office.”

These white nationalist conspiracies have also been a recurring feature of the House Majority’s impeachment efforts, frequently making its way into committee hearings and the Majority’s witnesses statements. America’s Voice has identified at least 15 of the Majority’s witnesses called to testify this year in border or immigration related hearings who had a prior history of promoting the “invasion” conspiracy theory. In one sharp example from a House Homeland Security Committee hearing last week, after Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-IL) put the “invasion” rhetoric in the context of the deadly terrorism it has inspired, she then asked Republican witness Derek Maltz if he still agreed with the sentiment. Maltz doubled down on the deadly conspiracy theory.

The rhetoric coming from Republican elected leaders isn’t an idle concern. DHS, the FBI, and the Justice Department have testified that the threat from violent domestic extremists is a leading terrorist concern. In November 2022 and December 2022, DHS issued memos warning about threats to migrants and infrastructure at the southern border in response to anti-immigrant-related concerns.

Experts agree dangerous speech from elected officials creates a climate that courts violence and threatens public safety. For example, in April 2021, Daniel L. Byman, the Director and Professor of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, wrote: “Incendiary rhetoric also creates a more dangerous political climate in general. An analysis of the manifesto issued by the El Paso shooter Patrick Crusius, who killed 23 people, mostly of Hispanic heritage, found that he used words like ‘invasion’ and ‘replacement’” drawing on conspiracy theories promoted by conservative media hosts. Another study found that politicians’ hate speech increases political polarization and that this, in turn, makes domestic terrorism more likely.”

According to Zachary Mueller, Political Director for America’s Voice:

“The threat to the homeland isn’t coming from those souls desperate to breathe safe and free, seeking asylum in America. The real threat is coming from the congressional dais as Republican members seek to normalize white nationalist conspiracy theories that have inspired domestic terrorists and threaten the American promise of a multi-racial democracy.

The impeachment effort is an attack on the DHS Secretary using the rhetoric and talking points that is inspiring the very terrorism he is tasked with preventing. This grotesque perversion of the responsibility of Congress isn’t only a waste of the American people’s time, treasure, and confidence in their leaders, it actively puts them in harm’s way, placing a particular target on the backs of Americans based on the color of their skin, the accent they speak with or the religion they practice.

All Republican members have a stark choice to make; they either speak out against and work to halt a sham impeachment effort that is advancing a threat to our national security and democracy, or they are actively complicit in this dangerous embarrassment.”