“Make a run for the border” is not just a culturally inappropriate advertising slogan from Taco Bell (1988-1994), it is what every Republican candidate for any office does when they first announce that they are running for office. They must do a border wall photo-op and talk about the brown hordes “invading” America.

Note: “invasion” is right-wing code language for the Great Replacement Theory: “in simple terms, it states that welcoming immigration policies — particularly those impacting nonwhite immigrants — are part of a plot designed to undermine or ‘replace’ the political power and culture of white people living in Western countries.” “The theory often uses martial and violent rhetoric of a migrant ‘invasion’ that must be stopped before it ‘conquers’ ‘white America.'” It is racist xenophobia, and is un-American. It originated with European fascists. Tucker Carlson, host of “White Power Hour” on Fox News, is the biggest purveyor of this white supremacy theory in America today.

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Then there are the deeply offensive GQP campaign ads that are an insult to both our intelligence and our humanity. Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent write at the Washington Post, In GOP ads, ‘invasion’ language is everywhere:

When Republicans are asked about midterm election campaign issues that make them squirm, they have a ready answer. Never mind abortion rights or Donald Trump’s legal travails, they say — we’re running on inflation. The GOP will win control of Congress on gas and grocery prices, and that’s what they’re laser-focused on.

But over the airwaves and online, another story is playing out: an absolute torrent of ads meant to frighten and anger voters about immigration.

A new report from the pro-immigration group America’s Voice seeks to document this ongoing phenomenon. One of its key conclusions: “Republicans have made their nativist narrative a top messaging priority.”

In the world of Republican campaign ads, very little has changed since the xenophobic Trump presidency, and some of what’s in these ads is truly repellent.

Three themes dominate these ads, the report finds, and they are all wildly inflammatory and profoundly dishonest: The Biden administration has created “open borders,” undocumented immigrants are responsible for fentanyl overdoses and a full-blown “invasion” is underway.

The borders are anything but open; the Biden administration is pursuing, arresting and deporting people seeking to come to the United States by the thousands. The vast majority of fentanyl that comes in is smuggled through ports of entry in cars, boats and planes, not carried by undocumented immigrants. And as for an “invasion,” that’s no more true now than it was when Trump warned that caravans were about to overrun the country.

But the Republican ads portray horror and chaos — usually with a non-White face. Some ads show pictures of young Black men walking through rivers on their way to “invade” America, with language suggesting this “invasion” brings “terrorists, drugs and crime.”

Other ads say the Biden administration is supposedly “importing 20 million illegals and giving them amnesty” (the image for that one is people in Haiti), which can only be stopped by “a declaration of invasion.”

In some ads it’s not just an open border but a “wide open border” — once again, illustrated with pictures of Haitians. In others we’re told that “human, sex and drug trafficking are out of control because of Democrat governance,” while Democratic candidates “refuse to oppose Biden’s open border policy.”

Of course, there is no open border policy, but why should the fact that it doesn’t exist stop Democrats from opposing it? That just shows how sinister they are, these ads say, because they “want to destroy this country.” [i.e., White America.]

All of this captures something essential about this political moment. For months, Republicans were certain they could spread fears of chaos in order to ride to victory in the midterms. They’d run on crime and immigration, not just to excite the base but also to scare unsettled swing voters.

Yet the dynamic unexpectedly shifted, and now disorder and, dare we say it, crime — as in the potential crimes of Donald Trump and many Jan. 6 defendants — are not necessarily playing in the GOP’s favor. The overturning of Roe v. Wade has unleashed another form of chaos and a host of new dangers threatening women. And all of these things are energizing Democrats.

Meanwhile, the GOP fulminations about immigration — especially the more repulsive stuff that’s in those ads — may be receding to what’s largely a base issue. Even as GOP immigration messaging remains torqued to maximum intensity, and even as border Republicans ramp up wretched stunts like busing migrants into major cities, momentum is shifting toward Democrats in the midterms, including among independents.

“Republicans are indulging in the worst kind of White nationalist rhetoric,” Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, told us. “And an issue they thought would win over swing voters is at best a base mobilizer for voters they already have.”

What makes this all really ugly, however, is that the messaging remaining under the radar — which Democrats bear some blame for, having gone quiet on the issue — allows it to continue mostly unexamined. This, even though its worst incarnations — such as “great replacement theory” — have inspired recent mass shootings.

Along these lines, it’s worth keeping an eye on Blake Masters, the GOP Senate candidate in Arizona. He has trafficked heavily in great replacement theory and has run truly vile ads on immigration, including one that features machine-gun fire at the border. [Tucker Carlson Calls Him the Future of the GOP. First He Has to Get Elected..] Yet in a place President Biden won by a whisker that’s also a border state, Masters is trailing by a meaningful margin.

As Sharry told us, Masters’s whole “declare an invasion” line “is not working, in a state where one-third of the voters are independents and border security is a top issue.”

Yet whether it works with independents and swing voters, this foul sewage has been flowing unabated. And it will surely continue to do so.

The xenophobic and racist anti-immigrant hysteria of Republicans is hurting our economy, and contributing to higher food  prices and inflation, because we have a labor shortage in this country. We have always addressed labor shortages in the past with new immigrants.

NBC News reports, Farmers push for immigration reform to counter labor shortages and rising food prices:

Farmers [traditionally a Republican constituency] across the U.S. are joining a push for national immigration reform that they say could ease labor shortages and lower food prices as surging production costs continue to rock the agriculture industry.

The farm operators say the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, already passed by the House and pending in the Senate, will provide them with a stable reliable workforce by creating a path to citizenship for undocumented agricultural workers and reforming the seasonal farmworker visa program, among other things.

The current labor shortage, while not new, has been exacerbated by the pandemic and resulted in higher prices or empty store shelves for consumers. Food costs are now 10% higher than they were at this time last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“At a time when labor shortages are contributing to inflation and high food prices, it’s clear that we need the Senate to pass our Farm Workforce Modernization Act to stabilize the agricultural workforce and protect America’s food supply,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the California Democrat who sponsored the House bill, said.

But some worker groups oppose the measure, saying it does not include all immigrants and would further exacerbate power imbalances between farm owners and migrant workers.

The Senate version of the legislation, sponsored by Sens. Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, and Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, would modify and further open up the widely used H-2A temporary work visa program to give undocumented farmworkers year-round work-based residency with an eventual pathway to citizenship.

Crapo declined a request for comment by NBC News, and Bennet did not return a request for comment.

It is still uncertain when the legislation will be presented for a vote in the Senate, but as labor shortages contribute to challenges in food production, the bill has received wide support from hundreds of farmers and agriculture groups.

Stephanie Mickelsen owns a large-scale potato farming operation in Idaho and said her farm began using the H-2A program for farmworkers, which has “made a huge difference” but because the visa only allows temporary authorization for nine months at a time, finding labor continues to be a problem.

“We have about 60 full-time people that work on the farm all year long, but that is not enough when you hit harvest to be able to get that crop out of the ground, so we need an additional 100 to 150 employees on the farm side, that’s not including the processing and packing facilities,” said Mickelsen, who is chair of the American Farm Bureau Labor Committee and is also running unopposed for a state office in Idaho. “I would hire domestic workers, but they don’t seem to exist.”

While labor shortages existed long before the pandemic, the problem came to a head in recent years, said Charles Wingard, who runs a family farm in South Carolina that produces leafy greens.

“Since Covid in 2020, I think that the fragility of our food supply chain came to light in that our food supply chain was a little more fragile than most people, myself included, would have thought.”

Wingard’s farm, Walter P. Rawl & Sons, employs around 700 domestic and H-2A workers but has a 20% worker shortfall in its processing and plant jobs.

“We supply to big grocery chains, and they don’t care that we’ve got labor problems. They only want us to fill the orders and make sure the truck is loaded properly and delivered on time,” he said. “There’s always a pressure there.”

Despite advertising widely, Wingard said domestic workers are just not available, especially in the past few years because of people getting sick, retiring early or finding jobs where they can work from home.

As the country experiences the highest 12-month increase in food prices since May 1979, according to the consumer price index, farmers say this is in part because of labor problems.

A 2022 Texas A&M University study commissioned by the American Business Coalition, a bipartisan group of 1,200 business leaders who advocate for immigration reform, found that having more migrant and H-2A workers were related to lower inflation, higher average wages and lower unemployment. The study also found that “more denied petitions for naturalizations are associated with larger consumer prices and higher inflation.”

Blame White Nationalist Republicans for higher food prices and higher inflation. White supremacy has consequences.

The Washington Post editorializes, The U.S. needs immigration, not overheated rhetoric on migrants (excerpt):

“[N]et immigration in the United States — the number of all foreign arrivals, including illegal ones, minus the number of departures — has been on a downward slope for five years, partly but not only because of the pandemic. As the Economist noted recently, migrants added just 247,000 people to the U.S. population in the year that ended in July 2021, the smallest increase in three decades and an amount equal to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the country’s population. The Trump administration, having launched an assault on legal as well as illegal immigration, drove down the number of entries through red tape even before covid-19’s arrival.

…Despite the fact that most apprehended migrants are sent back to Mexico under a public health edict the Trump administration imposed, Republicans predictably weaponize the surge of migrants at the border, using it to scare Americans and score political points. The fact that net immigration is tumbling and contributing to labor shortages — and thereby also to inflation, by helping to drive up wages — is lost in the tsunami of political rhetoric about an ‘invasion.’

… The nation’s anemic birth rate, which has declined in every year but one since 2014, will sap economic vitality in the absence of a robust flow of immigrant workers. The way out of that dead end is for Congress to overhaul the immigration system to allow for higher inflows of legal workers and a path to legalization for some of the estimated 10 million undocumented migrants, many of whom have been in this country for 15 years or more. Unfortunately, there is little prospect of that in a political environment in which Republicans falsely equate immigrants with bringing higher crime, draining welfare programs, and smuggling fentanyl and other drugs. If immigration is forever wielded as a political cudgel, and not as a policy component of economic growth, everyone will suffer.”




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