Washington, DC – Today, House Republicans are holding another in their weekly drumbeat of congressional hearings about immigration and the border – their seventh official Republican Committee hearing on the subject in the first seven weeks of the GOP’s majority. Like the first six, today’s field hearing in McAllen, TX is heavy on anti-immigrant political theater, falsehoods and fear mongering – including the elevation of dangerous white nationalist conspiracies – and light on real solutions.
Republicans on the committee and invited GOP witnesses, like Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe, have already used “invasion” and “replacement” rhetoric and themes. Sheriff Coe was one of a handful of local elected officials in Texas who declared an “invasion” in 2022, echoing the white nationalist great replacement conspiracy theory. Coe also has collaborated with a far-right militia group harassing migrants along the border and the legal arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center designated hate group FAIR.
While we will be tracking today’s hearing, we can already predict much of what we’ll hear. Of note, we expect lots of references to an incident in El Paso over the weekend – which offers a case study in the way right wing media and Republicans use lies and misinformation to keep their anti-immigrant outrage machine in motion and, in the process, advance dangerous white nationalist themes that have inspired multiple domestic terrorist attacks, including the El Paso mass murderer who killed 23 because he was fighting an “invasion.”
Yet, Rep. Dale Strong (R-AL) used the hearing today to echo this very same deadly conspiracy theory saying “our country is under attack. America is being invaded. No American is safe…This invasion is an American issue.”
As America’s Voice Political Director Zachary Mueller writes in “Where Does the Violent White Nationalism End and The GOP Begin?”:
“On Sunday, hundreds of mostly Venezuelan migrants who had been prevented from being able to make their legal asylum claim and frustrated by a new Biden administration policy forcing asylum claims to be filtered through a new app plagued with errors, headed to one of the El Paso official ports of entry after misinformation circulated online that gave the impression that they would be able to make their asylum claims. Debunking the online rumor, which was not true, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol prevented the desperate migrant families from entering the U.S. to make an asylum claim and, instead, turned them around to wait in Mexico to continue their attempts to make an appointment through the faulty app …
The rumor was not true and the crowd dissipated without major incident and the El Paso port of entry reopened for normal business by early Sunday evening. Similar rumors are a constant but predictable problem as desperate families look for safety.
More than anything, the event on the bridge on Sunday demonstrates the hard security of the southern border and the ongoing confusion as the Biden administration tries to limit migrants’ ability to seek asylum …
Disturbingly, several Republican members of congress reacted to the video by amplifying white nationalist conspiracies that Fox News further elevated. On Monday, Fox ran the headline “Texas lawmakers react to the El Paso migrant rush: ‘Full-blown invasion at our southern border,’” pulling a quote from Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX). Nehls told Fox: “How can anyone watch those videos without thinking there’s a full-blown invasion at our southern border?”
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, including the murder of 23 people in El Paso in 2019.”
According to America’s Voice Political Director Zachary Mueller:
“As Republicans and right wing media mischaracterize what happened on the bridge to El Paso this past weekend, it’s a reminder of how purposeful lies and perpetual outrage can stoke dangerous conspiracies.
Four years ago today, a white nationalist murdered 51 people in Christchurch, New Zealand citing the racist ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory. Today, Republican members of Congress echo that same bigoted lie to demagogue non-white migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. as part of a selfish and cynical politics that puts a target on the backs of Americans because of the color of their skin or the accent they speak with.”