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Republicans Behaving Badly: The GOP in Arizona, Florida and Texas Embrace Fear, Radicalism and Xenophobia

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Washington, DC – Across the country, Republican candidates and elected officials are becoming increasingly radical, embracing nativism, stoking fear and stirring hate. Witness examples from Florida, Arizona, and Texas:

  • In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis and fellow Republicans have been pushing an ugly proposal that would stop the state from issuing or renewing licenses to shelters that house unaccompanied minors being sheltered by the federal government. In response, they are facing a powerful pushback from an array of Florida business leaders, faith leaders, and Cuban-Americans who arrived in the 1960s Operation Peter Pan exodus of Cuban migrants. The American Business Immigration Coalition Action (ABIC-ACTION) today released a six-figure Spanish language media buy in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale media market targeting Gov. DeSantis over the proposal, with the first ad: ”REPUGNANTE”. Meanwhile, a recent Miami Herald op-ed from state business leaders blasted Governor DeSantis and legislators for a broader array of anti-immigrant bills that have been introduced and are driven by Republican anti-immigrant politics, rather than what’s good for Florida.
  • In Arizona, GOP Senate primary candidate Mark Brnovich, the current state Attorney General, called immigration into the state an “invasion” in a recent “legal opinion” he issued justifying Arizona’s ability not only to send troops to the border but also justifying potential violent force against migrants. Brnovich wrote that Arizona has the power to “engage in war … the power to defend itself from this invasion under the Governor’s authority as Commander-in-Chief. An actual invasion permits the State to engage in defensive actions within its own territory at or near its border.” This is in addition to  Republican Senate candidate Jim Lamon’s release of a despicable ad depicting the candidate shooting at President Biden, Speaker Pelosi and Arizona Senator Mark Kelly. This is part of a dangerous trend for Arizona Republicans. Arizona GOP candidates and elected officials are embracing the racist “Great Replacement Theory” and related “invasion” rhetoric despite the proven deadly consequences. 
  • In Texas, Republican primary politics in the gubernatorial and Attorney General races are dragging the already nativist state GOP further to the fringes – ignoring the state’s economic needs (see “Increase in legal immigration could help solve Texas’ labor shortage”). As Al Jazeera reports, the state GOP is descending into a frenzy of radicalism. Governor Abbott has deployed national guardsmen to the border in a mindless and morale-sapping PR stunt. He and his current Attorney General, the indicted Ken Paxton, have engaged in a relentless legal assault on common sense immigration measures  – including litigation aimed at putting DACA recipients on a path to deportation. Despite all this, Abbott is facing primary challenges from several candidates, including former Rep. Allen West and Don Huffines, who criticize Abbott for being insufficiently hardline on immigration. Meanwhile, anti-immigrant crank Rep. Louie Gohmert is running for Texas Attorney General and last week, highlighted a recent interview by tweeting “I joined Steve Bannon on War Room to talk about the INVASION of illegals into Texas…”

According to Mario Carrillo, Campaigns Manager for America’s Voice:

Some hoped that the Republican Party would distance itself from the rabid anti-immigrant politics of Donald Trump and Stephen Miller. But looking at what’s happening in Florida, Texas and Arizona should end that mistaken idea. This is today’s Republican Party, with candidates openly embracing racist conspiracy theories, stoking fear, and spreading lies about immigrants – despite the very real and dangerous consequences that we have seen of this type of dehumanizing rhetoric. 

In 2019, a Texas mass murderer drove 8 hours to El Paso, my hometown, and killed 23 people. In his ‘manifesto’ he said he did so to stand up to what he called, an “invasion.” Today such hateful and inflammatory rhetoric has gone mainstream in the state GOP, even featured in many of their ads. This is wrong. This is dangerous. This has to stop. The real world consequences of such rhetoric can be deadly.

Check out ongoing examples of Republicans’ anti-immigrant ads at the America’s Voice GOP Ad Tracker: http://gopadtracker.com/