Republicans Use Israel Assault to Stoke Fears About U.S.-Mexico Border

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Crime in American cities. The nationwide opioid disaster. Election integrity. And now a terror assault thought of the deadliest day for Jews in Israel’s 75-year historical past.

Not lengthy after Hamas terrorists killed and kidnapped a whole bunch of Israelis this month, a wave of Republicans — on the presidential marketing campaign path, in state and congressional races and within the far-right corners of conservative media — reached for a well-recognized playbook: tying the problem to the nation’s southern border.

“What occurred to Israel might occur to America as a result of our nation has been invaded by hundreds of thousands of individuals from over 160 totally different international locations,” Consultant Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia stated on Fox News greater than 24 hours after the assault.

“We all know that there’s an open border, and I do know that the largest nationwide safety risk is that if these terrorists come into America, and we’ve one other 9/11,” Nikki Haley, a former United Nations ambassador below former President Donald J. Trump, advised reporters final week in Harmony, N.H.

“You can not neglect that the identical people who attacked Israel are proper now pouring at ranges that no person can consider into our lovely U.S.A. via our completely open border,” Mr. Trump stated on Monday, a baseless declare that was met with applause at a marketing campaign occasion in Clive, Iowa, a Des Moines suburb.

Whereas Republicans are in any other case reckoning with deep divisions, the exceptional unity on this entrance underscores the diploma to which the two,000-mile dividing line between the US and Mexico stays a potent political image for the occasion. Since Mr. Trump paved his approach to energy on a nativist and hard-line strategy to immigration, Republicans have invoked fortifying the border to deal with almost each difficulty, in more and more militant phrases and infrequently exaggerating the information.

There are some indications that message is resonating. A nationwide NBC Information ballot taken in September means that voters overwhelming belief Republicans over Democrats in the case of dealing with the economic system and crime — in addition to immigration — heading into the 2024 election.

Alex Conant, a Republican strategist and a former adviser to Senator Marco Rubio, stated the aggressive turns towards the border may very well be significantly efficient now because the Biden administration grapples with two very actual humanitarian crises: report numbers of migrants attempting to cross the border and a combat towards fentanyl that has turn into an pressing public well being drawback.

“The border is one thing that issues a majority of People, particularly when you may tie it to issues they see in their very own neighborhoods,” he stated.

Homeland Safety officers have stated they’ve discovered no particular or credible risk to the US tied to Hamas. Andrew Bates, a White Home spokesman, responded to Republicans partially by saying there may be “strict nationwide safety vetting to find out whether or not people coming from anyplace on the planet have ties to terrorist organizations.” Immigration consultants stated that the federal government can not display individuals who enter undetected however that the big numbers of migrants turning themselves in on the border are subjected to screening processes.

Because the southern border was drawn, American politicians have sought to wring political benefit by tapping into xenophobic fears, at instances aimed toward Chinese language laborers, or younger German males believed to be spies, or Jews and Catholics, historians and political analysts stated.

Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a authorities professor at George Mason College in Virginia and who tracked the rise of the Mexican prison group Los Zetas, stated the newest Republican rhetoric took cues from three distinct moments in U.S. historical past: the migration of Mexican laborers who turned the financial engine of the Southwest, the federal government’s warfare on medicine that started within the Seventies, and the 9/11 terror assault and the so-called warfare on terror. All resulted in an elevated navy presence on the border, the constructing of bodily limitations and an growth of the U.S. deportation system.

Ms. Correa-Cabrera stated that, very similar to now, these earliest border enforcement measures had been principally based mostly on political arguments, not information that migrants elevated crime or posed a higher risk to public security. Many research have proven this isn’t the case.

“It needed to do with prejudice,” she stated.

Makes an attempt by politicians to hyperlink Mideast terror teams and Mexican prison organizations have at instances gained traction over the previous 20 years, however no substantial proof has surfaced to help the declare, counterterrorism and insurgency consultants stated. The 2 sorts of teams have vastly totally different aims and function in cultural and financial borderland areas that don’t share remotely related dynamics.

With apprehensions on the southern border up general, U.S. officers this yr have recorded an increase in apprehensions of people whose identities match these on the F.B.I. terrorist watch listing — 160 migrants within the 2023 fiscal yr as of July, up from 100 the fiscal yr earlier than, based on the Department of Homeland Security. Such rolls represent a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of individuals looking for to cross the southern border and don’t considerably measure the fear risk towards the US, terrorism and insurgency consultants stated. The uptick could also be owing partially to the broad nature of the lists, they added, ensnaring folks wished for terrorist actions towards their dwelling international locations however not aimed toward the US, in addition to family or associates not accused of wrongdoing.

Though consultants don’t utterly rule out the specter of a terror assault launched from the southern border, they described it as unlikely.

If Mideast terror organizations ever did plan an assault, “the northern border might even be extra susceptible,” stated Bruce Hoffman, professor and director of the Heart for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown College who makes a speciality of terrorism research. And such a plot wouldn’t essentially be linked to unlawful immigration, he added.

The 9/11 hijackers entered the US on vacationer, enterprise and pupil visas. The final man to bodily cross the border with supplies for an explosive — Ahmed Ressam — was arrested in 1999 after he got here in from Canada.

Nonetheless, the southern border stays a robust image, for politicians and voters. When Mr. Trump adopted his “America First” slogan during his 2016 presidential marketing campaign, he used it to harness grievance, xenophobia and fears about threats from overseas, financial competitors from China on commerce, and the potential financial and social penalties of will increase in new immigrants.

On Monday, Mr. Trump, below fireplace for his criticism of Israel and for calling Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terrorist group, “very good,” invoked the lethal Hamas assaults on the Jewish state to stoke fears of terrorism at dwelling. Returning to a few of his most inflammatory themes on unlawful immigration, he additionally took purpose at authorized pathways by pledging to reinstitute the journey ban from Muslim-majority international locations and increase the freeze on refugees he enacted throughout his presidency.

“We aren’t bringing anybody from Gaza,” he stated at his rally in Clive.

Mr. Trump is just not alone. Republican candidates like Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida typically steer conversations with voters again to immigration. At a city corridor in Iowa in August, when he was requested two questions in fast succession on unrelated points, Mr. DeSantis managed to hit on the border. On the problem of eminent area, he stated he would help it “for the border wall down south.” Requested concerning the warfare in Ukraine, he stated that as president, his “first obligation” could be “to guard the American folks and to guard our border.”

In mailers, tv adverts and remarks, Republicans in state and congressional races usually fault border enforcement. They solid blame on Mexican prison organizations and undocumented immigrants for the fentanyl disaster — however not the American pharmaceutical corporations that fueled the authorized marketplace for the medicine or the U.S. residents who legislation enforcement officers say usually deliver the tougher narcotics throughout the border. They’ve claimed with out foundation that unauthorized immigrants are getting access to the poll field, whereas claims that widespread numbers of undocumented immigrants are voting have been constantly discredited.

Historians and political analysts warned that a lot of the heated language on immigration performs into far proper and typically explicitly racist tropes that gas worry with the potential for violence.

Two white supremacist capturing suspects within the final 5 years, Robert Bowers in Pittsburgh and Patrick Crusius in El Paso, Texas, cited “invaders” and a “Hispanic invasion” within the lead-up to their crimes.

On Saturday, the authorities in suburban Chicago stated, Joseph Czuba, 71, fatally stabbed a 6-year-old boy and critically wounded the kid’s mom due to their Palestinian background. Officers tied the assault to what Mr. Czuba was listening to on conservative discuss radio concerning the preventing abroad.

Nicholas Nehamas and Eileen Sullivan contributed to this report.