tags: Press Releases

Stark Contrast: GOP Tees Up “Invasion” Talk and Amendments As El Paso Commemorates Consequences of Mainstreaming Violent Ideas

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Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) Previews Likely GOP Amendment Topic As El Paso Times Reflects on Dangers of “Invasion” Messaging

\Washington, DC – In coming days, Senate Republicans are likely to introduce cynical anti-immigrant poison pill amendments designed to divide Democrats and derail legislative progress on the landmark Inflation Reduction Act.

Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) previewed one of the GOP’s potential amendments this week, when he took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to offer a resolution to acknowledge “the ongoing invasion across the southern border.” Senator Marshall’s five-minute floor speech was packed with the same lies that make up much of the GOP’s midterm border narrative. It sounded like a compilation of the GOP ads that America’s Voice has been monitoring as part of our GOP ad tracking project.

Left unsaid in Senator Marshall’s remarks was the recognition of what had happened on that same August 3 date just three years earlier. In 2019, a man armed with an assault weapon drove ten hours to El Paso and murdered 23 people, motivated by the twisted belief that he was fighting the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”  

Even if Senator Marshall chose not to focus on the connection between his rhetoric and the anniversary of the mass-shooting, the El Paso Times – the largest hometown paper in the region – certainly is making the connection. The Times’ story by Martha Pskowski, “As El Paso struggles to heal, Walmart shooter’s rhetoric builds in GOP,” is a powerful indictment of the continued irresponsible, cynical, and dangerous use of “invasion” rhetoric by the Republicans and is worth keeping in mind as the GOP introduces immigration and border amendments in coming days (excerpts below):

“When Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick appeared on a July 5 Fox News segment about fentanyl, his comments quickly turned to the U.S.-Mexico border. ‘We are being invaded,’ he told the host. ‘We’re being attacked as we were on Pearl Harbor,’ he followed up.

That same day, Kinney County Judge Tully Shahan signed a disaster declaration. The South Texas county had previously called for help to ‘defend our borders’ from undocumented immigrants. Now Shahan called on Gov. Greg Abbott, as the state’s Commander-in-Chief, to ‘declare the existence of an invasion on its border with Mexico.’

Patrick and Shahan’s words were familiar to the people of El Paso. Nearly three years earlier, a white man north of Dallas wrote a diatribe. ‘This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,’ he wrote. ‘I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.’

He then drove southwest until he reached El Paso. The morning of Aug. 3, 2019, he entered a Walmart filled with back-to-school shoppers. He opened fire and killed 22 people, a 23rd victim dying months later.

After the El Paso massacre, President Donald Trump came under scrutiny for describing an ‘invasion’ of immigrants. Even some Texas Republicans denounced the shooter’s racist motives. But three years after the racist attack, those lessons, if they were ever learned, have been forgotten.

…The El Paso mass shooting is one in a series of attacks linked to the Great Replacement Theory, which has gained favor among white supremacists in Europe and the United States who believe minority and immigrant populations are replacing white people and culture … Three years after the El Paso shooting, anti-immigrant rhetoric among Texas Republicans has reached a fever pitch.

…U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, said she has reminded colleagues in Congress time and again of the impacts of anti-immigrant rhetoric. ‘At the very least (Aug. 3) would have been a wakeup call for our national and state leaders,’ Escobar said in July 2022. ‘But it couldn’t be more clear that all of the lives lost at the hands of white supremacists, these politicians considered those innocent lives collateral damage in their quest for power, their quest for reelection … You have politicians and political leaders who fan the flames of hate instead of trying to create communities and a country that embraces diversity and celebrates it,’ Escobar said. ‘It is disheartening. It’s frightening. It’s infuriating.’”

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

“Sen. Roger Marshall’s floor speech was a show of great disrespect to the victims’ families of the El Paso attack. He legitimized the very same white nationalist conspiracy theory that drove the mass murderer to kill Hispanics. Republicans’ continued embrace and mainstreaming of white nationalist falsehoods create dangerous and cynical politics and offers a stark contrast to the voices on the ground testifying about the proven dangers of mainstreaming those ideas. As the GOP tees up a host of ugly amendments using the same vile language, let’s remember what’s really at stake with their continued embrace of cynical and vile anti-immigrant politics.”