GOP delegation blasted for stoking fear and hatred at southern border

Migrants and asylum seekers wait at the border crossing between Tijuana and the United States, 2019.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) criticized the “rhetoric of fear and hatred” used Monday by Rep. John Katko (R-NY) and other GOP House members at a media event at the southern border in El Paso. 

Rep. Escobar said during a virtual press conference that she had invited House minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s delegation to meet with local leaders and advocates to gain a more complete perspective on the challenges at the border, but the offer was not accepted.

“He obviously only wanted a very narrow perspective,” Escobar said. “He and my colleagues also used language that I think is very dangerous and very unfortunate.”

Rep. Escobar said she cautioned McCarthy and “asked him to be mindful about the fact that the words he and our colleagues use have great power, and they have great consequence as well.”

Reps. Katko and McCarthy claim that some recent border-crossers are on a federal watch list of terrorists. Escobar challenged that claim, saying she recently met over two days with the Border Patrol sector chief and other officials, and there was no mention of terrorists.

“When they use language and rhetoric that is intended to make Americans either fearful of, disdainful of or feel hatred toward immigrants or border communities, communities like El Paso pay the price,” Escobar said of her Republican colleagues. “And El Paso, Texas, knows only too well the consequences of xenophobia and hate-fueled violence, and lived through those consequences on Aug 3, 2019 and have been living with the consequences ever since.”

Escobar was referencing the mass shooting at an El Paso WalMart, in which a 21-year-old white male angry with the “Hispanic invasion” of Texas killed 22 people and injured more than two dozen more. Most of the victims had Spanish surnames. 

Escobar said it’s alarming that elected officials use fear to get the American public to believe the southern border is a place to be feared. 

“Some of these folks who keep repeating this misinformation, they’re the same people who keep repeating the big lie that created the domestic terrorist attack here in Washington, DC on Jan. 6, so they really have very little credibility with me,” Escobar said. 

“What we heard leader McCarthy and others say was just do nothing about the misery right outside our front door. It’s OK that it exists. As long as we don’t have to look at it, we’re OK with it.” 

A section of border wall in Tijuana, Mexico. Photos © Jim McKeever.


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