Washington, DC – Republicans have used the early weeks of their congressional majority to mainstream – and refuse to denounce – white nationalist conspiracy talking points as part of their relentless political attacks on the border and immigration. Today, as the El Paso shooter is set to plead guilty, we have a disturbing reminder why the “invasion” and “replacement” conspiracy is so dangerous to legitimize in the halls of Congress and the highest levels of Republican leadership.
At yesterday’s House Oversight Committee border and immigration hearing, GOP Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-KY) decried a supposed breach of “decorum” by committee Democrats, who had tweeted out information compiled by America’s Voice of the numerous occasions when Oversight Republicans embraced white nationalist talking points on the “Great Replacement Theory” and a supposed immigrant “invasion.” Rep. Comer asked the ranking Democrat, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), to take down the tweet. Rep. Raskin responded that he would only do so if Oversight Republicans formally renounced the “Great Replacement Theory,” which the Republicans refused to do (see a recap of that exchange here).
Beyond just their refusal to denounce white nationalist conspiracies, three Republican Members – Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) – amplified white nationalist talking points during the hearing (see video recap here). This follows last week’s House Judiciary Committee border hearing at which eight Republicans employed either an implicit or explicit reference to the racist fictions.
Reps. Boebert, Gosar and Greene are not outliers in their party. Last May, after the mass shooting in Buffalo where the alleged gunman espoused “invasion” rhetoric, the Washington Post and New York Times reported on the embrace of the “great replacement” theory by Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third ranking member of House leadership. Also last May, ABC News reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “repeatedly avoided denouncing” that dangerous conspiracy theory. And Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas was using the “invasion” talking point on CNN as recently as last month, having initially rejected it after the Walmart murders, AP reports in their story today about the El Paso shooter.
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
“The House GOP has used two hearings to firmly anchor ‘invasion’ and ‘replacement’ conspiracies in Congress as part of their relentless political focus on immigrants as a threat to America. Committee Chair Comer wouldn’t renounce these extremist views when challenged by Rep. Jamie Raskin. Unfortunately, the El Paso shooter’s guilty plea and the newly uncovered racially motivated terror plot show that these aren’t examples of a partisan tit-for-tat only relevant to the Capitol Hill bubble, but reminders that Republicans are helping to elevate a dangerous strain of white nationalism with a real body count.”
As an Associated Press wire story, “‘Invasion’ language continues after El Paso Walmart shooting,” reminds:
“From inside a Texas Walmart in 2019 during one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, Adria Gonzalez heard the gunman shout epithets against Mexicans as she helped panicked shoppers toward the store exits.
… [the El Paso shooter] published a document online shortly before opening fire that said his shooting was in response to what he called ‘the Hispanic invasion of Texas.’
…America’s Voice, an immigration reform group, said it tracked more than 80 Republican candidates during last year’s midterm elections who amplified what they called ‘invasion’ and ‘replacement’ conspiracies.
‘I think it’s been creeping over the years,’ said Zachary Mueller, political director of America’s Voice. ‘What I would say is that in 2021, there was a marked shift where it went from the fringes of the Republican Party into the mainstream of the Republican Party.’”
- When Republican House Oversight Committee Members Amplified White Nationalist Conspiracy Theories, Feb. 3, 2023
- When Republican House Judiciary Committee Members Amplified White Nationalist Conspiracy Theories, Feb. 1, 2023
The 11 Republicans who used the Oversight and Judiciary Committee hearings to amplify white nationalist conspiracy theories:
- Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), in the Oversight hearing, said, “the truth is that there is an invasion happening at our southern border because of this policy change and it’s happening because Joe Biden invoked amnesty and changed the secure border policies … and he won’t change it back because Democrats, and this is intentional, in fact. Their policy is a success not a failure because this is their intent.”
- Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), in the Oversight hearing, said, “Why would Biden do this, to create chaos, to sow discord? What is the answer to this mess from Biden and the Democrats? More big brother, more control, even changing our culture? …Instead of empowering the border patrol with the tools they need to stem the invasion of illegal aliens, Biden sends billions upon billions to Ukraine to protect the border of another county”
- Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), in the Oversight hearing, said, “Walls do work, and we want you to have a wall as one of the tool kits in your box to stop the illegal invasion into our country that is occurring every single day.”
- Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) in the Judiciary hearing said that “that the border crisis is ‘intentional’ which is an implicit reference to the replacement conspiracy.
- Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) in the Judiciary hearing, said that “they are systematically. They are intentionally, Secretary Mayorkas and his administration, they’re dismantling immigration enforcement. They are encouraging illegal immigration.”
- Rep. Tom McClintock (R-MS) in the Judiciary hearing said cancellation of Remain in Mexico “signaled to the world that America’s border no longer mattered. We’ve seen 1.7 million illegal aliens deliberately admitted into this country and another 1.2 million known gotaways have entered … that is an illegal alien population 2.9 million that is the entire population of the state of Mississippi.”
- Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) in the Judiciary hearing asked a witness, Judge Samaniego “you testify there’s no invasion…Caravans isn’t just materializing out of the ether. It’s just the most recent wave of an invasion that is being aided and abetted by liberal activists who believe that subverting United States law is the best way to achieve their radical policy objectives” and asks again if “working for the Border Patrol in Laredo Texas and Hispanic, a Texan, it’s racist for that Hispanic American to say that it is an invasion that his Border Patrol personnel are overwhelmed”.
- Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) in the Judiciary hearing argued against Judge Samaniego about his “testimony [that] there’s no invasion of migrants…how is that not the case?”
- Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) in the Judiciary hearing argued against Judge Samaniego “you said there is no invasion of migrants in our country saying as such continues a false racist narrative…I would advise you to watch your words and be careful when you’re talking about people like Mr. Dunn who are voicing a very serious issue migrants are absolutely invading this country”.
- Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) in the Judiciary hearing argued against Judge Samaniego “you stated there is no invasion of migrants in our community nor are there hordes of undocumented immigrants committing crimes against citizens.”
Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-TX) in the Judiciary hearing, argued against Judge Samaniego stating that “you did say that there’s no Invasion here…[And defined the term ‘invasion’ to mean the ‘incursion of a large number of people or things’] I would say five million people constitutes a large number or ‘things’ and I would say enough fentanyl imported to our country to kill the American five times is a ‘thing’ I would consider that to be the direct definition of the word ‘invasion’…but this is actually not about race this is actually an issue of public safety and if I call this an invasion sir I’m not racist.”