Washington, DC – The Republican Party is hellbent on defining themselves by the anti-immigrant, MAGA extremist majority. The House Judiciary Committee and its Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) announced a new hearing for February 1 – “The Biden Border Crisis: Part I.” Not to be outdone, the House Oversight Committee will host a hearing on the same subject the following week. These hearings fit alongside the GOP zeal to pursue impeachment against DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and the larger relentless GOP political focus on the border.
Below are four key points to keep in mind as Republicans go for broke on nativism.
- Republicans have empowered MAGA extremists who mainstream deadly white nationalism – the real threat to public safety
- The GOP’s political talking point that blames the Biden administration’s border policies started well before Biden even took office and obscures how complicated the underlying issues really are
- Instead of working on real solutions in Congress, the GOP remains reliant on extremist policy and has built an anti-immigrant judicial pipeline to thwart progress
- Defining themselves by their MAGA extremists is bad politics for the GOP
Point 1: Republicans have empowered MAGA extremists who mainstream deadly white nationalism – the real threat to public safety
- America’s Voice has documented the scope of Republicans’ embrace of dangerous conspiracy theories about an immigrant “invasion” and the “replacement” of white Americans and the links between this rhetoric and multiple acts of domestic terror in places such as El Paso, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh.
- Yet, the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees and the drivers of the potential Mayorkas impeachment represent a who’s who of extreme legislators who rely on these white nationalist talking points (see the reaction of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) to the Oversight hearing announcement, promising to “get to the bottom” of the “invasion at our southern border” and warning observers to “Buckle up”).
- Meanwhile, DHS assesses that domestic extremists, including those motivated by anti-immigrant ideology, are among the greatest threats to national security and public safety.
Read an America’s Voice backgrounder HERE on the House Republicans who will have a megaphone to mainstream white nationalism in coming weeks. And learn more on how the upcoming GOP border hearings will platform white nationalism in this detailed interview with America’s Voice Political Director Zachary Mueller at The Border Chronicle.
Point 2: The GOP’s political talking point that blames the Biden administration’s border policies started well before Biden even took office and obscures how complicated the underlying issues really are
Together with right wing media allies, the GOP and anti-immigrant movement leaders started a drumbeat blaming Biden’s policies for a rise in border encounters occurring during the Trump presidency. The GOP attempt to “blame Biden” shows their motivations are more about partisan talking points than real substance.
- In early August 2020, Trump favorite Tom Homan, former Acting ICE Director, went on Fox News to blame an increase in border apprehensions on Joe Biden – a full five months before Biden took office. In November 2020, Homan said on Fox, “The border numbers are already going up because they think Joe Biden is going to be the president… ‘It’s a Biden effect. It’s already happening.’”
- Mark Krikorian of the anti-immigrant group CIS (designated a Hate Group by SPLC) in National Review, said in December 2020: “The Biden Effect at the border — the surge of illegal immigrants expecting to be let in by Democrats — has already begun, with increasing apprehensions of minors and families.” Failed GOP candidate and nativist Ken Cuccinelli also used the same “Biden effect” phrasing in December 2020.
The GOP’s ongoing talking point about the “Biden effect” or Biden’s “open borders” are a political attack – see the accompanying photo ops for Fox News, fundraising solicitations and campaign messaging – than a serious policy discussion to address how to meet the challenge posed by rising numbers of asylum seekers and changing patterns of global migration.
Remember, even President Trump and his cruel policies still presided over upticks of arrivals at our southern border – do Republicans blame Trump for the 2019 “crisis” and the 40% increase in border arrivals in 2020? Of course not. Spikes in migration and the number of people seeking asylum have happened under Presidents Obama, Trump and Biden – in 2014, 2016, 2019, 2020 and over the past two years, underscoring the reality that migration is a global issue and blunt, deterrence-only policies are ill suited for the real complexities at issue. Affixing blame to Democrats and demonizing Black and Brown people at the border is a much higher priority for Republicans than legislating realistic policies to address what is actually happening.
Point 3: Instead of working on real solutions in Congress, the GOP remains reliant on extremist policy and has built an anti-immigrant judicial pipeline to thwart progress
- In Congress, House Republicans’ signature immigration legislative proposal thus far is Rep. Chip Roy’s extremist legislation that would effectively ban asylum. As Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) assessed: “Trying to ban legitimate asylum claims — one, it’s not Christian, and two, to me, it’s very anti-American.” Due to opposition from Rep. Gonzales and several other Republicans, GOP leadership has scuttled plans to fast track a floor vote for the time being.
- Meanwhile, in the courts, the GOP anti-immigrant pipeline continues to rear its ugly head – the lawsuit filed by 20 states and Stephen Miller’s organization seeking to challenge the Biden Administration’s new parole program (which provides some Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan asylum seekers a legal process to safely enter the United States if approved) shows that the GOP opposes even legal immigration, embraces ugly racial animus – note the way Texas AG Ken Paxton singled out Haitians – and relies on the anti-immigrant pipeline and a partisan judiciary to do its dirty work instead of working in a bipartisan fashion to forge policy solutions, or even convince their own House conference.
- The combination of GOP obstruction to real immigration reforms in Congress plus Republicans’ anti-immigrant judicial pipeline shows a preference for the chaos of broken immigration status quo – made all the worse by the manner in which Trump and Stephen Miller dismantled the existing immigration system. It adds up to a vacuum that Democrats proposing real solutions can fill.
Point 4: Defining themselves by their MAGA extremists is bad politics for the GOP
Fresh off a 2022 election cycle in which the GOP’s embrace of MAGA extremism and white nationalism contributed to electoral losses and underperformance, the renewed GOP nativism on display carries a political toll.
- Just as in the past cycles of 2017, 2018, 2019, 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.
- Arizona during the 2022 midterm cycle was a case study, as GOP candidates like Kari Lake and Blake Masters ran two of the most virulently anti-immigrant GOP campaigns we tracked. As Aaron Blake of the Washington Post recently covered, this wholesale embrace of MAGA extremism backfired and even alienated some Republican voters.
- Despite contributing to ‘22 electoral losses and underperformance, the renewed GOP nativism and extremism on display shows the GOP refuses to course correct. As Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) told the Washington Post, “If you want to lose the majority, this is how you do it,” assessing the radical Rep. Chip Roy legislation that would ban asylum.