tags: Press Releases

How to Lose a Majority: House GOP Doubles Down on Anti-Immigrant Extremism

Share This:

GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales on House Republican bill that would end asylum: “If you want to lose the majority, this is how you do it.”

Washington, DC – Fresh off a 2022 election cycle in which the GOP’s embrace of MAGA extremism and white nationalism contributed to electoral losses and underperformance, some Republicans are seeing the writing on the wall and beginning to push back against their continued reliance on ugly and performative anti-immigrant politics.

As the Washington Post reports, House Republicans are scuttling plans to fast track a floor vote for Rep. Chip Roy’s extremist legislation that would effectively ban asylum. In addition to public opposition to the underlying radical scope of the proposed bill, some in the GOP are recognizing the political toll of Republicans’ embrace of anti-immigrant extremism. As Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) told the Post, “If you want to lose the majority, this is how you do it.”

Just as in the past election cycles of 2017, 2018, and 2020 – the GOP’s embrace of nativism, anti-immigrant fear mongering and dangerous conspiracies during the 2022 midterms spoke to the radicalized MAGA base, but alienated the majority of the electorate.

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice: “After successive elections in which the majority of Americans recoiled against GOP extremism, including on immigration, the Republican response continues to be ‘double down on more of the same.’ The GOP should wise up to what the public wants: solutions on immigration that are consistent with our values as Americans, not more of the cruelty, chaos, and white nationalism unleashed by the Donald Trump and Stephen Miller era.”

What Rep. Roy has proposed is that all asylum claims be halted unless all asylum seekers and any undocumented immigrants encountered at the border are incarcerated until they can be removed or turned away. It is both a radical departure from decades of asylum law and a non-starter in the Senate, so can only be seen as sending a political message to the GOP’s MAGA base. That message, as Rep. Gonzales rightly points out, has been a political liability for Republicans for some time. 

Rep. Gonzales and other Republicans concerned about the political blowback to GOP nativism will have lots of heartburn in coming weeks: In addition to the Chip Roy anti-asylum legislation, Republicans remain hellbent on defining themselves by their anti-immigrant extremism. Witness the House GOP Oversight committee gearing up for an early February border hearing featuring proud champions of white nationalist conspiracies, including Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and the continued attempts by many in the House Republican conference for a show trial to impeach DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Background Resources:

  • Read the America’s Voice post-election report, “MAGA Extremism Failed at the Ballot Box” detailing how Republicans’ nativism was one component of the GOP’s larger extremism that backfired with American voters in 2022
  • Read the America’s Voice backgrounder on the burgeoning Mayorkas impeachment effort and key GOP drivers’ embrace of white nationalism
  • Read below for a snapshot of the past failures of Republicans and Stephen Miller’s political predictions and reliance on nativism:
    • In 2020, Steven Miller told Reuters that Joe Biden’s immigration stance would prove to be “a massive political vulnerability” in the 2020 campaign. 
    • In 2019, red state Republicans lost the gubernatorial mansion in Kentucky and failed to flip the seat in Louisiana after adopting the nativist playbook, making xenophobic fear-mongering a cornerstone of their respective campaigns. 
    • In 2018, the Miller-led strategy of focusing on immigration and migrant caravans backfired on Republicans, who saw Democrats win by the largest midterm margin in American history.
    • In 2017, Steve Bannon claimed Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie’s embrace of aggressive nativist dog-whistling would be key to his victory. It wasn’t. He lost by 9 points. Research also found that Gillespie’s xenophobic ads backfired among all groups who saw the ad, including white voters.