In a series of congressional delegations going to the border and on relentless appearances on right wing media, Republicans are stoking fear and playing politics over immigration. They do not acknowledge that the vast majority of migrants are being kept out or that the ones who are being let in are mostly children in need of immediate protection. To the extent that Republicans address policy or solutions at all, they are calling for a return to the policies championed by Stephen Miller and Donald Trump that returned desperate children to danger or took them from their parents in the name of deterrence. Nor do these politicians recognize the regional crisis in Central America that is driving migration. Instead, it’s all about a blame game and politics.
Republicans are openly admitting their intentions are political in nature – from Senator Tom Cotton calling immigration and the border the “central issue in the campaign in 2022” to Stephen Miller recently saying that “this can be one of the most potent issues, both to motivate our voters, but equally as important, to appeal to swing voters.”
Witness Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who held a dramatic press conference this week to explore potential mistreatment allegations at a San Antonio facility housing unaccompanied children. As RAICES Texas noted, he was clearly “trying to turn a humanitarian crisis into a political issue.” As Julián Castro said yesterday, “If he has reason to believe that there is mistreatment what he should do is turn that information over to federal authorities. Instead, he held a dramatic press conference.”
Zachary Mueller, Digital Content Manager of America’s Voice, wrote earlier this week about House Republican Whip Steve Scalise and his CODEL:
Steve Scalise’s traveling circus of fear-mongers is, unfortunately, nothing new. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy led a similar delegation a couple weeks ago. Followed by Ted Cruz, and 17 other Republican Senators riding boats armed with machine guns alongside tourist boats. All in the hopes of getting footage for campaign ads and to attempt to create a distraction from their failure to deliver economic or COVID-19 relief to the American people and GOP culpability in the terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol building. And, while Cruz and his crew were on the border, the Texas GOP was hosting an anti-immigrant rally in Laredo that featured the founder of the Oathkeepers.
Mueller’s analysis shows how Republicans’ fundraising has ramped up around the issue as well:
Here are some examples of the xenophobic dog-whistle ads already in use:
The links to all these ads take you to a fundraising landing pages that look like this:
In the special election in Texas’s 6th House District, Republican Brian Harrison launched a TV ad solely focused on pushing the deeply misleading Republican political frame of “Biden’s Border Crisis.” This ad likely a prescient example of what is to come in the 2022 midterms.
As Mueller concludes, “Let’s be clear, Republicans tried this strategy in the 2018 midterm elections and it flopped. Up and down the ticket they ran aggressive xenophobic dog-whistle ads. And their closing electoral pitch? Migrant caravans. It was one of their main campaign messages and resulted in historic losses for the GOP.”