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Democrat rips GOP over xenophobic migrant charade

GOP fearmongering about the border is "about creating Fox News spots," Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said Thursday.


In their effort to retake the House this fall, Republicans are ramping up their xenophobic rhetoric around immigration, intent on pinning border issues on the Biden administration

There's been no shortage of conservative political theater meant to stoke fears of a so-called migrant invasion. We've seen it with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott busing migrants to Washington like cargo and GOP lawmakers demanding the Biden administration cite Covid concerns to turn away migrants away at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In response, Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., ethered the GOP for its fearmongering during a House hearing Tuesday with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

Cicilline referred to a memo reportedly circulated by far-right Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio which gave fellow Republicans inflammatory, immigration-related talking points designed to paint migrants as criminals and malign Democrats as backers of gruesome crimes. 

Cicilline pointed to the Times’ characterization of Jordan’s memo, which said it was full of “misleading and provocative talking points that seek to portray migrants and refugees as perpetrators of gruesome crimes, especially those involving sexual assault, echoing the language that former President Donald J. Trump used to denigrate immigrants.”

“There’s a whole plan about what this hearing is about, and it’s about creating Fox News spots that they can use for politics,” Cicilline told Mayorkas. “And I regret that you have to be part of it.”

And — wouldn’t you know it — the congressman was completely right. One Republican clearly angling for TV time was Rep. Chip Roy of Texas. You may know Roy from the texts he allegedly sent to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows begging for talking points to support Trump's baseless claims of 2020 election fraud.

Whenever right-wing figures spew conspiratorial rhetoric, Roy is there waiting to eat it up, mouth agape like a baby bird at feeding time. And Thursday was no different. Roy went into a diatribe against Biden officials and used photos of dead migrants — allegedly people who suffered drug overdoses — to suggest the Biden administration was somehow responsible for them. 

Of course, migrants dying while trying to cross the border (and in custody) and people dying from overdoses aren’t new. And although Roy has only been a lawmaker since 2019, even he should know Congress has the authority to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would help resolve some of the issues he cherry-picked. He should also know Republicans have repeatedly balked at the idea of any such measure.

Regardless, Roy’s border crisis bluster earned him the TV spot he was aiming for. He appeared on Fox News that night:

Like clockwork, indeed.