Republicans have been very weirdly angry about the large amount of drugs that U.S. border officials have seized from failed smuggling attempts. These outbursts are not serious, but instead part of Republicans’ demonization of asylum-seekers and other migrants. “800 pounds of fentanyl were seized at our Southern Border in October,” claimed a November tweet from Elise Stefanik, the number three House Republican and racist “replacement theory” proponent. “This is Biden’s Border Crisis.”
“Border crisis” echoes the wording put out by an anti-immigrant hate group at the very start of the Biden administration, but that’s a whole different issue. The reality is that it’s overwhelmingly U.S. citizens who get caught with drugs, available data shows.
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“Out of the 42 incidents in which a person's nationality was reported, 33 (79%) involved US citizens. Just 3 incidents involved a smuggler without legal status,” American Immigration Council Senior Policy Counsel Aaron Reichlin-Melnick shared in a Twitter thread this week. He said data from official Customs and Border Protection (CBP) releases and social media posts from December 2021 to May 2022 showed the overwhelming majority of seizures were from passenger vehicles at ports of entry, followed by pedestrian lanes. “Only TWO publicly-reported seizures were linked to people crossing between ports of entry,” he wrote.
“The data is of course incomplete, because CBP doesn’t publish details on every single seizure,” Reichlin-Melnick continued. “But it does back up what the less detailed but more complete monthly statistics show; there is no measurable link between migrants and fentanyl smuggling.”
“For Republicans to criticize the seizures is a little weird,” MSNBC’s Steve Benen wrote last year. “In fact, common sense suggests GOP officials should focus attention elsewhere, since the seizures disprove one of the party's favorite talking points: If the president had implemented an ‘open-border’ policy, as the right routinely claims, U.S. Customs and Border Protection wouldn't have stopped these shipments before they entered the country.”
But then what would Republicans like Greg Abbott use to justify their expensive, ham-handed border stunts? The right-wing governor in April launched a short-lived political stunt forcing commercial vehicles to undergo inspections by state officers. Because these were redundant checks happening after Customs and Border Protection officers had already done their checks, Abbott’s stunt turned up nothing. The Texas Tribune reported that state inspectors cited a couple of hundred drivers for minor infractions that included under-inflated tires and oil leaks.
Meanwhile, the disastrous stunt cost Texas more than $4 billion in damages, an economic consulting firm in the state has estimated.
As mentioned earlier, replacement theory proponent Stefanik and other Congressional Republicans have mimicked the “border crisis” rhetoric put out by designated anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) just one day after President Biden’s inauguration. “Within days of the release, Republicans began to echo the same language in their messages on social media,” The American Independent reported earlier this year.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other GOP lawmakers had mimicked FAIR’s “border crisis” term nearly 40 times altogether through March, the report found. “The call to repeat the ‘border crisis’ language also appeared in a memo from the House Republican Study Committee that urged party members to use the term and blame it on President Biden,” Oliver Willis wrote.
They’re a vocal bunch alright, but when it comes to denouncing racist rhetoric tied to racist mass murderers, cat’s got their tongues.
“The highest-ranking Republican official in U.S. government, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, repeatedly refused to denounce ‘replacement theory’ in a press conference Tuesday afternoon,” Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter wrote last month. “That puts him in company with New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third in command among House Republicans, who seems to be an adherent of the white nationalist conspiracy theory.”
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