It wasn’t just Colorado’s Lauren Boebert. Arizona’s Paul Gosar was also among Republican members to push racist conspiracy theory during a House Oversight hearing on the U.S./Mexico border this week.
Gosar used Tuesday’s hearing to push the false belief that the Biden administration “may be trying to flood the United States with ‘illegal aliens’ as part of a deliberate effort to change the makeup of the nation,” Rolling Stone reported. Gosar, a violent troll with confirmed white supremacist ties, wondered aloud if Democrats were intent on “changing our culture,” and falsely claimed a supposed “invasion” at the U.S.-Mexico border.
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In case you need a recap of that hearing, remember that invasion rhetoric was also pushed by Boebert, who won reelection by the slimmest of margins in November.“The truth is that there is an invasion happening at our southern border,” Boebert said in a lie Tuesday. That echoes the rhetoric of the El Paso mass shooter who also this week pleaded guilty to 45 hate crime violations. The self-described white nationalist admitted that he’d selected the peaceful border city of El Paso in order to target Latinos, complaining in his manifesto of a supposed “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The murderer later confessed to writing it.
Think about that for a moment. This evidence was used by prosecutors to help convict a white supremacist mass shooter in the killings of 22 people, most of them Latino, yet his rhetoric is being falsely touted as fact by House Republicans during a hearing of the United States Congress.
Gosar was given back a highly visible platform via a House hearing by Speaker-For-Now Kevin McCarthy, after being censured and removed from committees for encouraging political violence against President Biden and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Gosar was the first lawmaker to be censured in over a decade.
Marjorie Taylor Green, a fellow Oversight member, was also restored to committees by McCarthy, after being kicked out in 2021 over her endorsements of political violence against Democrats. While Gosar and Boebert pushed lies about invasions, Greene resurrected tropes about asylum-seeking children being gang members. “Greene was there, too, wondering whether children coming across the border are MS-13 gang members,” Rolling Stone said.
Greene was probably disappointed to hear the answer from the Customs and Border Protection official, who told her that he was “unaware of any significant amount of MS-13 gang members within the unaccompanied children population,” the report said.
It’s important to note that Greene’s pondering is not an idea that came out of nowhere. Former President Donald Trump so viciously whipped up unfounded gang fears among his supporters, that most believed MS-13 to be a "very" or "somewhat" serious threat to the United States despite accounting “for a tiny portion of 1.4 million gang members nationwide,” ProPublica said in 2018. Federal immigration agents in 2017 launched a campaign arresting and falsely accusing migrant teens of being MS-13 gang members. One immigration attorney told NPR that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had been using even the most remote of links to round up teens in the witchhunt, ultimately leaving some too terrified to go back to school.
In the midst of the Trump administration’s family separation crisis the following year, disgraced former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen then falsely claimed that MS-13 were posing as fake families at our southern border. She provided no proof, because she was a liar. In 2019, ICE repeated this “fake families” lie, which was then amplified by former Congressman Lee Zeldin, who would later unsuccessfully run for New York governor.
As I noted earlier this week, the House Oversight chair, James Comer, actually pitched a fit over an entirely factual tweet noting the rhetoric of Republican members. But his how dare you theatrics were ultimately neutered by his own side. Republicans really don’t like it when you point out their own words back to them, as Rep. Jamie Raskin showed in refusing to take down the tweet from Oversight Democrats. He’s doing it right—and more need to follow his lead in calling them out.
Sarah Longwell is a longtime Republican strategist and prominent never-Trumper. Her podcast, The Focus Group, is a peek at the thousands of hours of focus groups she has conducted all across the country. Sarah comes on to give her thoughts about the state of the current Republican Party and why its future remains bleak.
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