As the 118th Congress begins its first official week, Republicans, who claim they’re super serious about cracking down on supposedly dangerous migrants from the Southern Hemisphere, could convey legitimacy by pushing for former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to be booted from his apparent winter home in Florida.
Such a move would be a responsible, ideologically consistent choice after Bolsonaro’s supporters waged a violent assault on Brazil’s democratic institutions on Sunday — a response to his electoral defeat that was eerily similar to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Bolsonaro, like former President Donald Trump, falsely claims his loss was the result of election fraud. And like Trump, the violent supporters who stormed Brazil’s National Congress, highest court and presidential palace on Sunday claimed Bolsonaro had been cheated out of his re-election bid.
I doubt it. Bolsonaro, after all, was a friend to Trump and had openly modeled his regime after Trump’s corrupt White House. This has made the Brazilian into something of a celebrity among conservatives. (Reuters reported Monday that Bolsonaro was hospitalized in Orlando with abdominal pain. Neither NBC News nor MSNBC has independently verified his current location.)
Multiple Democrats, including Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, are calling for Bolsonaro to be kicked out of the United States. Republicans, in contrast, have been largely mute on the matter.
Republicans, instead, are hyper-focused on expelling asylum-seekers from the U.S., suggesting they think people who flee oppressive leaders pose a greater danger to the U.S. than oppressive leaders themselves. Making it all the more inexplicable is the fact that Florida’s right-wing governor, Ron DeSantis, has made anti-immigrant policies a cornerstone of his administration.
The GOP’s widespread silence on Bolsonaro’s reported stay in Florida is quite telling, given the party’s endless effort to instill fear in Americans about the dangers that migrants allegedly pose to America’s way of life. Bolsonaro embodies everything the GOP purports to hate about many immigrants in the United States: He has openly stoked violence, and his anti-democratic views literally run counter to the laws set out in our Constitution.
But the Brazilian appears to have made himself right at home in Florida, and he has exposed GOP hypocrisy in the process — in a place, and among a party, that appears welcoming of his worst character traits.