tags: , , Press Releases

Senator Tim Kaine Effectively Challenges Use of Dangerous “Invasion” Rhetoric Around Immigration

Share This:

Washington, DC — As right-wing politicians and talking heads continue utilizing dangerous “invasion” rhetoric to describe immigration, Democrats are being pressured to employ this bigoted conspiratorial language surrounding the southern border. Margaret Brennan, host of Face the Nation on CBS, pressed House Majority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to use this white nationalist terminology two weeks ago. To his credit, Rep. Jeffries declined to take the bait saying, “invasion is not a word I would ever use.”

Rather than capitulate to such attempts to push Democrats into adopting this rhetoric, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), appearing on Fox News over the weekend, took the opportunity to explain how the rhetoric of invasion is linked to deadly political violence. Senator Kaine was asked if he agreed with some of his Republican colleagues on whether there was truly an invasion at the border. His response: “I think you got to be careful throwing around words like ‘invasion.’ It was that kind of wording that led the deranged guy to go shoot up the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing folks a couple of years ago. And I think that kind of rhetoric is irresponsible.”

Notably,  one of the official accounts of the Republican National Committee lifted up Sen. Kaine’s comments, writing: “Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine is more concerned with words than the millions of unvetted illegals flowing across the open border.” But to be clear, the invasion rhetoric, now almost universally deployed by Republican leaders, party committees, right-wing media and now some mainstream media, inspired not only the antisemitic terrorist attack in Pittsburgh in 2018 targeting Jews that Sen. Kaine mentioned but also the attack in El Paso in 2019 targeting Latinos and Buffalo in 2022 targeting African Americans. 

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“As a resident of Virginia, I’m proud to see Senator Kaine standing against bigoted invasion rhetoric that has been proven to cause violence. Sitting on the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Kaine knows what a real invasion looks like, and it’s not desperate people looking to seek safety through the nation’s legal asylum process. He also knows the deadly consequences of the white nationalist and antisemitic replacement conspiracy theory. The murderous rage displayed in Charlottesville, VA in 2017 was evidence of the inextricable link between the invasion and replacement conspiracy theory and violence. 

With Texas thumbing its nose at the Constitution and directly challenging the federal government’s immigration authority based on the ‘invasion’ conspiracy, it’s vital that Democrats meet the moment and name the violent threat to public safety across the nation presented by this dehumanizing rhetoric. Republicans are making it clear that they will use this bigoted conspiracy to define the 2024 election. The post from the RNC makes it clear that the antisemitic and racist violence is a cost they are willing to accept to pursue this strategy. The stakes are incredibly high, and Senator Kaine’s comments offer an important reminder that this is dangerous language.”

As Sen. Kaine points out, this rhetoric is “irresponsible,” but is becoming increasingly normalized: 

  • Last week alone, Republican electeds, officials and candidates amplified the white nationalist invasion and replacement theory 79 times on X. Just this year, America’s Voice has identified 786 similar posts.
  • The invasion conspiracy is also the central argument from Texas in their standoff with the federal government and for why they should be able to implement SB4, their show-me-your-papers laws.