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Real World Reminders About Stakes of Extreme Immigration Rhetoric: FBI Foils Attack by Man Motivated by “Invasion” Talk

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Washington, DC — While much of the coverage of immigration and border is focused on Capitol Hill and Republicans’ dysfunction, we remain concerned about the real world dangers being mainstreamed by politicians stoking fear and conspiracies to mobilize their voters.

As Vice reports, “A Tennessee man, galvanized by anti-immigrant rhetoric about an ‘invasion,’ plotted to launch an attack on migrants and federal law enforcement at the southern border using explosives and sniper rifles, according to the FBI. Paul Faye, of Montgomery County, Tennessee, was arrested late last week on gun charges…”

Similarly, Rolling Stone adds, “The FBI says Faye hoped to inspire a ‘domino effect’ encouraging others to join in confrontations with federal officials. He had spoken to a North Carolina Patriot Party militia group member who had visited Eagle Pass, Texas, the site of a standoff between state and federal authorities over border enforcement that has inspired threats of a potential civil war from right-wingers.”

As a reminder, America’s Voice’s ongoing tracking has found 430 tweets just this year from GOP electeds who have employed the white nationalist and antisemitic replacement and invasion conspiracy  (see below), including NRCC chairman Rep. Hudson’s reply to Elon Musk’s use of the Great Replacement theory. “Now we know why Biden opened the border on his first day in office and refuses to do anything about it.” Not only is the characterization of the border as “open” a persistent point of GOP disinformation that lures migrants to the border, the idea that there is a plot by elites to do so lures armed white nationalists to take action.   

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

“The white nationalist and antisemitic conspiratorial rhetoric currently being employed by far too many elected officials invites the type of political violence foiled by the FBI. Horrifically, we know the exact cost in human lives these bigoted conspiracies can leave in their wake. Every time an elected official publicly embraces the rhetoric of the replacement and invasion conspiracy, they are contributing to a climate where someone with hate in their heart and a gun in their hand believes they should take matters into their own hands. Moreover, they continue to sow distrust in our democracy.   

While thankfully, this individual was apprehended and last week’s border rallies didn’t lead to violence, we all must be unequivocal in our condemnation of this rhetoric and clear-eyed about its violent consequences. We can disagree about the politics and policy of immigration, but we must draw the line when the rhetoric is inspiring hateful political violence.”

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