Washington, DC – Today, Republican House Minority Leader and potential Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy will head to El Paso and the U.S./Mexico border to deliver a supposedly “major” announcement about DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Undoubtedly, he will engage in another set of border-related photo ops that are about political theater instead of policy solutions, while advancing a false and dangerous narrative about immigrants, asylum seekers and current border policy. Ahead of McCarthy’s visit, we present three key questions reporters, the American public and Republicans should be asking Rep. McCarthy:
- Question 1: Especially given the El Paso location, will Kevin McCarthy acknowledge the linkage between mainstreaming “invasion” and “replacement” rhetoric and deadly violence? In the 2022 midterms, according to the America’s Voice ad tracking project, Republicans’ relentless focus on nativism included 3,200 different paid communications on anti-immigrant themes, including more than 700 examples of GOP use of the dangerous “invasion” and “replacement” conspiracies in campaign messaging from more than 80 Republican candidates. These are the same lies peddled by the gunman who murdered 23 people in El Paso three years ago and by the white nationalist shooters in Buffalo and Pittsburgh. In the aftermath of the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs, it’s notable that Stephen Miller’s Citizens for Sanity group spent over $51 million in TV ads across 16 states with some of the year’s most vile nativist and transphobic ads. Yet despite these deadly acts of violence, Republicans continue to mainstream this dehumanizing rhetoric and advance the dangerous notion that immigrants, asylum seekers and LGBTQ+ community members are a threat.
- Question 2: Why more GOP politicized stunts and photo ops instead of working on responsible policy solutions? Throughout the Biden presidency – even before he took office – Republicans were hellbent on their “open borders” attacks on Biden as a core messaging plank. Remember former Acting ICE Director Tom Homan in August 2020 blamed Biden for a 40% increase in border crossings that was occurring five months before his inauguration. Since then, the countless GOP delegations to the border have been all about politics – photo ops for Fox News and fundraising appeals – instead of a policy vision. Now, despite their underwhelming midterm performance, Republicans are back for more stunts and photo ops. And their version of “solutions” are just the same failed, deterrence-only policies as proposed or enacted by Trump and Stephen Miller – such as completing the $15 billion border wall that can be cut through with a $15 dollar hand saw. Meanwhile, the public strongly supports Dreamers’ citizenship and a balanced approach to immigration policy, pairing border security and citizenship, instead of the GOP’s “border first” excuse for inaction.
- Question 3: Does McCarthy plan to adjust course on any nativist messaging, given GOP underperformance in the midterms that is in part due to a broad pushback against GOP extremism? As America’s Voice points out in our recent, “MAGA Extremism Failed at the Ballot Box,” GOP extremism and Republicans’ radicalization on immigration was one factor that helped turn a host of winnable 2022 midterm races for Republicans into electoral defeats. Once again, Republicans’ politics of fear, grievance and division spoke to their radicalized base, perhaps, but alienated the majority of the electorate. Stephen Miller predicted that Republicans’ nativism would help usher in a ‘red tsunami,’ but his tens of millions of dollars’ worth of overt racism and nativism fell flat in 2022 – just as his similar election predictions about the power of GOP nativism failed in past cycles. Yet judging by the border trip, the Mayorkas chatter and the McCarthy pledge that citizenship for Dreamers is a non-starter in a GOP-controlled House, it doesn’t seem like Republicans are interested in a course correction or learning lessons from past failures.
In a statement, Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice added:
“Kevin McCarthy’s trip to El Paso and promised attacks on Secretary Mayorkas are a tell that the Republicans have learned nothing from the past two years and refuse to course correct. Instead of a serious reckoning with their party’s underwhelming midterm results and real efforts to distance themselves from MAGA extremism and the violence it inspires, McCarthy’s trip is a sign they plan to double down and again push ugly and dangerous rhetoric about immigrants and the border. McCarthy and his GOP allies do not have any genuine interest in immigrant or border communities – they are happy to revel in the cruelty and dysfunction of our immigration system rather than advancing common sense solutions that the majority of Americans support.”