weather icon Partly Cloudy
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR.: Swarms of opportunistic Republicans invade the U.S.-Mexico border

Did you hear the one about how separate groups of House Republicans made multiple fact-finding visits to the U.S.-Mexico border yet managed to find very few facts?

That’s the spectacle that has played out over the past few weeks, now that Republicans are in control of the House and have decided to make immigration one of their legislative priorities.

The GOP is eager to make political hay out of what it flippantly calls “Biden’s border crisis.” The party’s simplistic explanation is that President Joe Biden personally invited millions of migrants and refugees from around the world to flood the U.S.-Mexico border over the past two years by telling Border Patrol agents to stand down and opening up the gates.

Nonsense. If Republicans were halfway sober and not intoxicated by opportunism, they would see that this new narrative — that Biden is a global mastermind capable of orchestrating migration patterns of immigrants and refugees caused by war, natural disasters, a pandemic’s economic upheaval, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, etc. — conflicts with their former claim that the 80-year-old is feeble and incompetent.

Still, GOP leaders must think the immigration issue is theirs for the taking. Democrats try to avoid the subject because it pits against each other two elements of their left-wing coalition: Latinos, who tend to favor more immigration, and organized labor, which wants less.

Republicans have their own civil war to contend with, between a nativist wing that worries the nation’s complexion is changing and business interests with increasing concerns about finding workers to do jobs that Americans are “quiet quitting” or not taking in the first place.

For now, it appears that the GOP has caved in to the nativists. Parroting the line that foreigners enter the United States to do harm, Republican leaders have recently made several excursions to the border. More are planned in the coming weeks.

A convoy carried members of the House Judiciary Committee, led by its chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, to the border, where they held remote hearings. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., got into the act by taking a handful of freshman GOP lawmakers on a tour of Customs and Border Protection operations in Cochise County, Ariz.

As a son of central California, McCarthy ought to know better. If the speaker really wants to see undocumented immigrants, he could take a delegation on a field trip to his hometown of Bakersfield. That city is teaming with the undocumented, because the farming industry that keeps the municipality afloat couldn’t survive without illegal immigrant labor. The farmers who profit from hiring the undocumented then turn around and send checks to McCarthy’s re-election coffers so the Republicans can bite the immigrant hands that feed him (along with the rest of the country).

It’s amazing to see so many Republicans go to so much trouble to show that they care so deeply about a subject that they so obviously don’t understand. From their public statements and policy recommendations, it’s clear that many GOP lawmakers have swallowed three whoppers — that the country is being invaded, that the nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico can be sealed tight as a drum, and that there is some magic amount of enforcement dollars that will stop immigration in its tracks.

That’s a trifecta of idiocy. Wrong on all counts, folks.

Normally, GOP lawmakers, Fox News anchors and conservative radio hosts would be talking about how all these immigrants are strolling across the border and taking jobs from Americans.

But this isn’t a good time for that argument, given that the U.S. unemployment rate is just 3.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Just about anyone who wants a job can get one.

So all those noisemakers on the right wing — whose actual concern is the effect that immigration has on changing demographics — had to pivot to complain that the real threat coming across the border is illegal drugs, such as fentanyl, which apparently Mexican drug traffickers are forcing wholesome all-American kids in the Midwest to flirt with. What happened to that Republican sermon about how all Americans need to take responsibility for reckless actions and bad decisions? Where did that go?

Can’t anyone in this debate tell the truth about anything? That’s what we really need at the U.S.-Mexico border — truth. Unfortunately, that’s one thing Americans have learned not to expect from politicians.

Ruben Navarrette’s email address is crimscribe@icloud.com. His podcast, “Ruben in the Center,” is available through every podcast app.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
CARTOON: Fire drill

Smoke from Canadian wildfires engulfed the eastern United States and created hazardous air quality conditions.

RICH LOWRY: Democrats are making a crazy bet

Any adverse Biden event would confirm widespread doubts about his capacities and the wisdom of him running again.