Reports coming in of a wild exchange in the U.S. House today between Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who visited Capitol Hill to answer questions about the immigration backlog on the southern border and the forthcoming repeal of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions that have forced thousands of asylum seekers to wait outside the U.S. in increasingly desperate conditions.
Rep. Buck recently lost the top line on the June 28th GOP primary ballot to an upstart challenger promising to be more right wing than Buck, which seems difficult–but as the New York Post reports, the experience appears to have thrown Buck into a rage that Secretary Mayorkas got in the way of with what can best be described as horrifying results:
“My constituents want you impeached because they believe you’ve committed treason,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.
“They compare you to Benedict Arnold. You know, no parent with the last name Arnold names their kid Benedict. They wonder what will the Mayorkas family do down the road.”
For some background you may or may not know about DHS Secretary Mayorkas, he’s the son of Jewish immigrants. Mayorkas’ father escaped from the Holocaust, and then the whole family including a young Alejandro escaped Cuban Revolution–life experience that informs his work as DHS Secretary. Accusing people of Jewish ancestry of “treason,” especially over immigration policy, is one of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes there is.
So, there’s that. But as CNN continues, accusing the DHS Secretary who happens to be Jewish of treason wasn’t the only nativist canard deployed by Ken Buck today:
Republican Rep. Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican, criticized Mayorkas for reversing Trump-era immigration policies and claimed Americans were frustrated with Spanish-speaking children in schools, immigrants getting care in hospitals, and wages “suppressed by the mass influx of laborers.” [Pols emphasis]
The horror of Spanish speaking children in the schools! Immigrants getting medical care in hospitals, after getting hurt doing jobs Americans don’t want to do even if you pay them double! Ken Buck just blew the doors off any remaining pretense of “compassionate conservatism” in today’s Republican Party, at least on immigration. And while Buck dragged the party back decades on Latino outreach, Buck’s colleague Rep. Jim Jordan brought the racist “replacement theory” underpinning this whole accusation of treason against Secretary Mayorkas home:
“We have a Secretary of Homeland Security who is intentionally, deliberately, in a premeditated fashion…executing a plan to overwhelm our country with millions and millions of illegal migrants,” [Rep. Jordan] said. [Pols emphasis]
With that, Jordan closed Buck’s circle–and obviously, put an end to rational debate in this hearing if it hadn’t been already. These are views that were once relegated to the fringe even among Republicans, with hard-boiled bigot politicos brave enough to voice them like Tom Tancredo and Iowa’s ex-Rep. Steve King ostracized and downplayed by Republican pundits to mainstream society.
Today, Ken Buck is just keeping up the pace.