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From fear-mongering about asylum seekers at the border to preemptively accusing Afghan refugees of terrorism, the GOP's rhetoric on people coming to America puts lives at risk

3 21 25
21.09.2021

More and more, it feels like one of the defining features of reporting on refugees and asylum-seekers is tackling misinformation — confronting the untruths, misconceptions, and lies that exist about refugees, asylum-seekers, and immigrants. When I'm on the Mexican border embedded with families fleeing violence, I read tweets accusing them of being gang members; when I talk with mothers in ICE detention, I get emails ranting about MS-13.

I tend to keep an unhappy peace with this misinformation and fear-mongering — "things I can't change" and all that — but this last month I've struggled to contain my anger and my fear. The way powerful people talk, loudly and openly, about refugees isn't just untrue or cynical; it's putting lives in danger — from Afghan refugees to asylum-seekers on the border — in a very real way.

In early August, I went to a church in San Francisco's Mission District, a Latino capital, to spend time with my thoughts. It was the second anniversary of the massacre in El Paso, where a white gunman went to kill people like me in an act of terrorism motivated by, in his words, "the Hispanic invasion of Texas." When I left the church, my phone began buzzing: A friend was asking about news reports of police and National Guard from red states being sent to the Texas border.

In June, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Doucey sent a letter to all 48 other states requesting they send armed personnel to the border "in defense of our sovereignty and territorial integrity." During a press conference announcing the request, Abbott claimed "homes are being invaded," and his Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick went even further saying, "We are being invaded."

Hearing Texan elected officials opine against immigration isn't anything new, and it's not something I begrudge them. Abbott and Patrick were elected by a largely anti-immigration electorate in their party, and they're........

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