To listen to a recording of press call visit HERE
Washington, DC — On a press call held today, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Rep. Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Rep. Greg Casar (TX-35) and extremism experts gathered to discuss how the escalating standoff between Texas and the federal government is fueling a dangerous climate of potential right-wing violence and vigilantism at the border, including at the Take Our Border Back rallies scheduled for this week in Arizona, California, and Texas.
The experts on the call included Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, Devin Burghart, president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and Freddy Cruz, Program Manager for Monitoring and Training at Western States Center. America’s Voice Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas moderated.
On the call, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20) said: “The Republican politicians who are encouraging a standoff at the Southern Border are undermining public safety and risking an escalation that could easily become deadly for asylum-seekers, Border Patrol agents, and innocent citizens who could get caught in the crossfire. I joined today’s call — not as a Democrat or as a politician, but as someone who cares about the safety and security of people in Texas and border communities — to ask those who are stoking fear, resentment, and hate to stop. The people in Eagle Pass and other border communities are hard-working folks who deserve to live peacefully without having their lives caught up in this political chaos. Right-wing extremism – or any kind of extremism – has no place in our country and no place in Texas.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-08) stated: “The kind of extremism and anti-government propaganda and disinformation that has been unleashed in the West is very much part of the whole new insurrectionist philosophy that has been embraced by the American right. They believe that the meaning of the Second Amendment is that people have the right to overthrow the government. They are defending the convicted January 6th insurrectionists, calling them political prisoners and hostages – which is what Donald Trump calls them and Elise Stefanik has called them. And while they refuse to support the bipartisan breakthroughs on immigration that are taking place – or any bipartisan action on immigration – they are trying to stop any policy progress in order to deepen political divisions in the country and to contribute to the insurrectionist vitriol and energy that they have brought down on the government of the United States.”
Rep. Veronica Escobar (TX-16) said: “The Republican party has not just embraced the hatred of xenophobia but they are actively preaching it and promoting it…We have to make sure at all levels that we push back and we make people accountable for the words and the language they use and the risk and the danger they put innocent communities in. My colleagues and I will continue to uplift the voices of the vulnerable regardless of their background, regardless of their nationality, and regardless of their immigration status and we will continue to fight for safe communities. We can not accept the status quo and we can not accept the normalization of this language because it is indeed being normalized and we have to stop that.”
Rep. Greg Casar (TX-35) stated: “Greg Abbott has continued to use political stunts to advance his own agenda, violating the Constitution and endangering both U.S. citizens and asylum seekers. Abbott is following the Donald Trump playbook: make immigration harder and more dangerous, so asylum seekers are pushed into the hands of cartels and the system remains broken. Let’s be clear, immigration is a good thing. We can create an immigration system that is safe, orderly, and humane — but that’s the opposite of what Abbott and Trump want.”
Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, said: “Fearmongering against immigrants by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Donald Trump, and others on the far right must stop. The dangerous language accusing immigrants of “invading” the US and “replacing” citizens—white supremacist talking points they are mainstreaming–has already led to deadly violence like we saw at an El Paso Walmart in 2019. It is shameful that ideas that have inspired terrorist acts are being repeated by those holding high office. As a convoy filled with conspiracy mongers and extremists is on its way to the border, the need to denounce these efforts is critical.”
Devin Burghart, president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, stated: “Data collected by IREHR tells us that the standoff between Texas and the federal government has become a magnet for far-right vigilantism. A perfect encapsulation of this worrisome problem is the Take Our Border Back Convoy rolling towards the conflict in Eagle Pass this weekend. From the convoy steering committee on down, the protest comprises dangerous elements: militia members, Election deniers, QAnon conspiracists, COVID deniers, and other hardcore far-rightists.”
Freddy Cruz, Program Manager for Monitoring and Training at Western States Center, said: “As the convoy heads to Texas, we are seeing a lot of conversations around the great replacement theory and promotion of the invasion narrative, which has already inspired deadly attacks. It’s imperative that our elected officials dispel dangerous conspiracy theories and reject this hateful narrative before they can inspire any more violence. ”
And Vanessa Cárdenas, America’s Voice Executive Director and the moderator of today’s call, stated: “When politicians call their followers to a specific place and time to take action to defend the U.S. against what they are framing as an existential threat to the country, it does not turn out well. The ingredients of a potentially violent weekend are coming together and we want to make sure people – including state, local and federal authorities – are taking these threats seriously.”