Republicans are outraged — outraged! — at the surge of migrants on the southern border. The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, declares it a “crisis ... created by the presidential policies of this new administration.”
U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., claims “we go through some periods where we have these surges, but right now is probably the most dramatic that I’ve seen at the border in my lifetime.”
Former President Donald Trump demands the Biden administration “immediately complete the wall, which can be done in a matter of weeks — they should never have stopped it. They are causing death and human tragedy.”
“Our country is being destroyed.” he adds.
In fact, there’s no surge of migrants at the border.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended 28% more migrants from January to February this year than in previous months. But as The Washington Post notes, this was largely seasonal. Two years ago, apprehensions increased 31% during the same period. Three years ago, it was about 25% from February to March. Migrants start coming when winter ends and the weather gets a bit warmer, then stop coming in the hotter summer months when the desert is deadly.
To be sure, there is a humanitarian crisis of children detained in overcrowded border facilities and an even worse humanitarian tragedy in the violence and political oppression in Central America, worsened by U.S. policies over the years, that’s driving migration in the first place.
But the “surge” has been fabricated by Republicans in order to stoke fear — and, not incidentally, to justify changes in laws they say are necessary to prevent noncitizens from voting.
Republicans continue to allege — without proof — that the 2020 election was rife with fraudulent ballots, many from undocumented immigrants. Over the past six weeks, they’ve introduced some 250 bills in 43 states designed to make it harder for people to vote — especially the young, the poor, Black people and Hispanic Americans, all of whom are likely to vote for Democrats — by eliminating mail-in ballots, reducing times for voting, decreasing the number of drop-off boxes, demanding proof of citizenship, even making it a crime to give water to people waiting in line to vote.
To stop this, Democrats are trying to enact a sweeping voting rights bill called the For the People Act, which protects voting, ends partisan gerrymandering and keeps dark money out of elections. It already passed the House, but Republicans in the Senate are fighting it with more lies.
On March 24, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, falsely claimed the new bill would register millions of undocumented immigrants to vote and accused Democrats of wanting the most violent criminals to cast ballots too.
The core message of the Republican Party now consists of lies about a “crisis” of violent immigrants crossing the border, lies that they’re voting illegally and blatantly anti-democratic restrictions on voting to counter these trumped-up crises.
The party that once championed lower taxes, smaller government, states’ rights and a strong national defense now has more in common with anti-democratic regimes and racist-nationalist political movements around the world than with America’s avowed ideals of democracy, rule of law and human rights.
This transformation in one of America’s two eminent political parties has shocking implications, not just for the future of American democracy but for the future of democracy everywhere.
“I predict to you, your children or grandchildren are going to be doing their doctoral thesis on the issue of who succeeded: autocracy or democracy?” President Joe Biden opined at his news conference on Thursday.
In his maiden speech at the State Department on March 4, Secretary of State Antony Blinken conceded that the erosion of democracy around the world is “also happening here in the United States.”
Blinken didn’t explicitly talk about the Republican Party, but there was no mistaking his subject.
“When democracies are weak ... they become more vulnerable to extremist movements from the inside and to interference from the outside,” he warned.
People around the world witnessing the fragility of American democracy “want to see whether our democracy is resilient, whether we can rise to the challenge here at home,” Blinken said. “That will be the foundation for our legitimacy in defending democracy around the world for years to come.”