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Republicans Are Against Solutions and Policies that Alleviate Border Pressures; In Favor of Chaos and Politicized Misinformation

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May 2023

With immigration and border policies prominent in the news, the role of Republicans in forging and maintaining our broken system is essential to understand:

  • On 10-year anniversary of immigration reform bill Republicans killed, we are still paying a price for GOP obstruction and subsequent blocking of the solutions we need 
  • Despite decrying supposed border chaos, Republicans are opposed to policies that alleviate pressures on border
  • Republicans and right wing are contributing to migrants’ disinformation – including re. “open borders” and fentanyl
  • Republicans are advancing dangerous white nationalist conspiracies with proven links to violence

On 10-year anniversary of immigration reform bill Republicans killed, we are still paying a price for GOP obstruction and subsequent still blocking the solutions we need 

  • 10 years ago, the immigration bill that eventually passed the Senate with 68 votes in June 2013 was introduced (S.744)
  • The legislation reflected a compromise, both/and approach, and would have modernized our immigration system and and addressed many of the challenges we’re still dealing with today, including: 
    • providing new legal pathways and visas; a path to citizenship for Dreamers, farm workers and the undocumented population; and resources and staffing to support an orderly border
  • Today, we are still paying the price for House Republicans’ absolute refusal to allow a vote on that bill and the GOP’s subsequent descent into even more anti-immigrant chaos and cruelty. See here for a recent A.V. assessment of the number of times Republicans have blocked immigration legislative solutions since 2013.
  • Over the past decade, we have implemented almost all of the border enforcement measures, but our system continues to buckle under the weight of too few visa options and legal channels, while Dreamers and other long-settled undocumented immigrants are still waiting for the chance to become U.S. citizens
  • Republicans have stood in the way of progress and immigration modernization for decades and have moved in the wrong direction over the past decade.
  • Instead of coming to the table for a policy compromise, the current GOP seems to prefer weaponizing immigration and border issues for political reasons
  • It’s all about politics – remember a right wing drumbeat started blaming Biden’s policies for a rise in border encounters occurring during the Trump presidency. The GOP attempt to “blame Biden” shows their motivations are more about partisan talking points than real substance. 
  • The current “chaos” at the border that Republicans are railing about is much more about their obstruction of broader legislative modernization than it is about the Biden administration’s policies
  • The GOP seems more interested in continuing a broken and chaotic status quo and perpetuating a crisis than working on real solutions at the border or real efforts to modernize our immigration system 

Despite decrying supposed border chaos, Republicans are opposed to policies that alleviate pressures on the border

There are multiple ways to alleviate pressure on the border, including using America’s successful refugee resettlement program to vet, admit and relocate refugees with families and sponsors and to make more work visas and family reunification visas available so that those seeking work and family can come to America on airplanes with visas rather than taking the dangerous journey to the border. However, despite decrying the volume of arrivals and “chaos” at the border, Republicans have dismantled or blocked solutions that would alleviate border pressures and dismantled efforts that provide alternatives that avoid the dangerous trek to the border.

  • In addition to their role blocking the 2013 immigration modernization bill, Republicans continue to oppose policies that reduce border pressures and support policies that dismantle legal pathways and alternatives to the trek to the U.S. southern border
  • Witness the GOP’s condemnation of the Biden administration’s April 2023 announcements to expand legal pathways, create new regional refugee processing centers in Guatemala and Colombia, and expand family reunification for key countries – all policies that offer safe alternatives to a trek to the border while reducing border pressures
  • Or see that Republican states are currently suing to block the parole program that opens up new legal pathways for asylum seekers fleeing from four countries – Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti – each either an authoritarian regime or a destabilized nation.
  • Republicans also oppose and helped dismantle under Donald Trump/Stephen Miller multiple policies that help migrants and asylum seekers avoid the dangerous trek to U.S. border, including: 
    • they cut aid to Central America
    • they ended the Central American Minors (CAM) program that allows minors to apply for protection in the region
    • They forced asylum seekers into squalid settlements and dangerous conditions in northern Mexico
    • and they decimated other regional processing programs and funding as part of the larger assault on orderly refugee resettlement process and programs
  • At the same time, Republicans were voting to slash legal immigration, trying to end TPS and make millions deportable, were suing to end DACA (and still are) and seeking to close off the options available to the President in setting immigration policies and priorities through the conservative judiciary.
  • They aren’t really interested in solutions at the border, alternative legal pathways, or a larger immigration overhaul to modernize a broken system.
  • For political reasons, they prefer the chaos of the broken status quo. 
  • To justify their opposition and obstruction, the GOP relies on their perpetual “border security first” and “operational control” canards – as excuses to always get to “no” on broader reforms we need and they block. 
  • They really are coded excuses to say “legalization or immigration reform never” because it’s a goal that can never be met, by design.
    • By the “operational control” standard the GOP outlines, even the Berlin Wall wouldn’t have qualified as a “secure” border
    • They want “operational chaos” – the broken status quo and a perpetual political issue to rally their base – than real solutions

Republicans and right wing are contributing to migrants’ disinformation – including re. “open borders” and fentanyl

  • Fox News and the GOP are the leading purveyors of false “open borders” disinformation – right wing media and GOP are spending the equivalent of millions of dollars to amplify the false “open borders” message 
    • Fox News mentioned “open borders” 3,282 times from November 1, 2020, through March 16, 2023. Newsmax has mentioned “open borders” 2,727 times during the same period. 
    • Fox News and Newsmax mentioned “open borders” during time slots valued at nearly $27 million combined for advertisers.
    • The America’s Voice ad tracking project identified well over 600 different paid ads from Republican campaigns in the ‘22 midterms that pushed the lie about “open borders.” 
  • The Dallas News reported on a fresh example from mid-April: “near the Paso del Norte International Bridge, hundreds of migrants gathered, looking at their cell phones, confused about a story from a U.S. digital site … They said the [false] information from Breitbart, a right wing publication, was spreading on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and WhatsApp.”
  • This disinformation – part of larger relentless anti-immigrant political attacks – is being amplified and manipulated by bad actors and smugglers preying on migrants and asylum seekers and poisons the well and makes it harder to achieve solutions we need. 
  • It contributes to border chaos and empowers smugglers and bad actors to exploit desperate migrants and asylum seekers who are fleeing their countries of origin
  • Meanwhile, these false narratives poison the well for real policy solutions, stir fear and chaos into the political discourse, and prevent us from having a rational dialogue about how to best move forward

For more, read an America’s Voice memo on the details and implications: HERE and read the accompanying exclusive in Vanity Fair HERE

  • Relatedly, the GOP is treating the very real challenge of combating fentanyl as just another occasion to stoke fear against migrants and asylum seekers and blame Biden’s border policies 
  • Fentanyl is not an immigration issue, as serious policies to address the crisis recognize 
  • The vast majority of fentanyl that does come through our southern border is smuggled via ports of entry, often by U.S. citizens, instead of by migrants and asylum seekers

For more read “Debunking the GOP’s Fentanyl Narrative – A Short Resource Guide

Republicans are advancing dangerous white nationalist conspiracies with proven links to violence

  • Republicans are not just blocking immigration reforms and real solutions, but are actively promoting dangerous white nationalist conspiracies when they discuss immigration and the border
  • Republicans have held a border/immigration related hearing nearly every week during the first months of their majority. At nearly every hearing, GOP Members have mainstreamed dangerous white nationalist conspiracies re. “invasion” and the “great replacement theory.”
  • This despite the fact these conspiracies have been cited by multiple domestic terrorists behind deadly attacks in recent years in Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, El Paso, and Buffalo – which is about to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the white nationalist killings
  • Remember that Attorney General Merrick Garland stated that white supremacist violence is the biggest threat to our nation, a threat assessment similarly echoed by DHS.
  • House Oversight committee ranking Member Rep. Jamie Raskin called on committee Republicans to join him on a letter “denouncing white nationalism and white supremacy, and the use of related conspiracy theories.” Zero House Republicans signed on.
  • This follows a 2022 election cycle that featured more than 700 examples of Republicans amplifying the dangerous “invasion” and “replacement” conspiracies in campaign messaging, implicating more than 80 different GOP candidates. 

See more from America’s Voice here and here