“Speaking outside El Paso on Monday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said border agents he had met earlier that day issued dire warnings that suspected terrorists are trying to cross into the United States via Mexico,” The Washington Post reported. “They talked about, ‘They’re on the list,’” Kevin claims border agents said. “The terrorist watch list.” He claimed, “You saw it in their eyes.”
It truly is Academy Award season, because I haven’t seen drama like that since The Notebook. The problem is there’s plenty of reason to believe Kevin’s full of shit. “I have have the same security clearance as you do,” Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, a military veteran and member of the House Armed Services committee, tweeted at McCarthy. “Can you have your office arrange for a classified briefing for members to see where this info derived from?”
MSNBC’s Steve Benen had a great write-up that more than generously noted that perhaps McCarthy is privy to some classified information as a Gang of Eight member. But at the same time, Kevin “wasn’t referencing a briefing or classified intelligence; he said he’d spoken to border agents who allegedly told him about apprehended members of the terrorist watch list.” Nor had Customs and Border Protection itself said anything remotely resembling Kevin’s claim, and you know they’d love any excuse to expand their bloated agency even more.
“Similarly, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) said that in her recent meetings with border agents, she also didn’t hear any references to terrorist suspects getting caught at the border,” Benen continued. If there’s any congressmember who should be the go-to on border and immigration issues, it’s Veronica Escobar, who slammed McCarthy’s visit as a stunt and criticized him for using her community as a prop. She in fact offered to introduce him to local folks on the ground who could educate him on what’s really happening at the border. It was an offer he, unsurprisingly, did not take up.
“I invite you to also visit with the advocates and attorneys who have been working with the immigrant community providing humanitarian assistance to asylum-seekers to better understand the humanitarian perspective,” her March 11 letter to him said. “If we are to work on meaningful border and immigration policy, it’s important to see the complete picture. My office would be glad to assist with setting up a meeting with advocates.”
Escobar also held a press conference on Monday to explain the reality on the ground and to offer up ideas by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to help aid the unaccompanied children who are now being allowed into the U.S. by the Biden administration after being blocked by the previous administration, but unfortunately it got a fraction of the media attention of McCarthy’s theatrics. It’s not like Escobar’s presser was inaccessible to them either, because she tweeted the Zoom link.
Advocates like the Border Network for Human Rights echoed Escobar’s words. “At the end of the day, Rep. McCarthy and the other Republican delegates do not actually care about these children and families. They are merely pawns in a political power play that has time and again led to violence and heartbreak for border communities,” the organization said in a statement received by Daily Kos. The organization also confirmed that McCarthy and his delegation did not reach out to key stakeholders.
“The real crisis we are witnessing is a moral and political one precipitated by our lawmakers’ failure to pass inclusive and just immigration reform over the past decade,” the organization continued. “Seeking asylum is a legal right, and U.S. law states that asylum seekers may remain in the U.S. while their case is pending. It is unconscionable to deny children and families this right, as well as their dignity and access to basic resources and institutional support.”