House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) has always had an extremely pronounced tendency to run his mouth when it is seemingly disconnected from his brain. And he just did it again. Aside from screeching about inflation-- which no credible economist sees-- and weeping over 6 Dr. Seuss books with racist images that were removed from the supply chain by Nancy Pelosi, AOC, Bernie and Joe Biden (oh, sorry; it had nothing to do with Nancy Pelosi, AOC, Bernie and Joe Biden... the decision came from Dr. Seuss Enterprises), the Republican case for the 2022 midterm elections is about how hordes of Latino barbarians are crashing the southern border and overrunning the country. You thought Trump was a Know Nothing? Just take a look at Marjorie Taylor Greene's toxic twitter feed. Random screen save from this morning:
Republicans are all flocking to the border for propaganda visits. Ted Cruz-- not on his way to the Mayan Riviera this time-- will be there tomorrow. Kevin McCarthy was there yesterday... making stuff up, serious stuff. According to Washington Post reporter Tim Elfrink, McCarthy used the old Trump manufactured-lie, claiming that "border agents he had met earlier that day issued dire warnings that suspected terrorists are trying to cross into the United States via Mexico."
“You saw it in their eyes,” McCarthy said, referring to the agents. “They talked about, ‘They’re on the list.’ … The terrorist watch list.”
McCarthy’s claims, which were echoed by another Republican congressman, were among the most alarming raised by a GOP delegation that aimed to highlight a growing crisis for the Biden administration amid a surge of migrants.
But some Democrats from border states pushed back late on Monday and demanded evidence to back up McCarthy’s assertions.
“Weird as the Chairman of the subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations and a border state member of Congress haven’t heard anything about this,” tweeted Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat who represents the Phoenix area. “Gonna ask for a briefing. Pretty sure he is either wrong or lying.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection didn’t immediately respond to messages from the Washington Post early on Tuesday about whether anyone on the watch list has recently been caught at the border. McCarthy’s office also didn’t immediately return a message.
McCarthy’s claims echo repeated assertions by Trump and members of his administration that terrorists were using the southern border to sneak into the United States, a line Trump often used to justify his attempts to build a wall and tighten immigration rules.
But those claims withered under scrutiny.
Weeks before leaving office in January, for instance, Trump visited another border region in Texas and warned that “we have terrorists from the Middle East coming into our country through the southern border.”
As The Post’s Fact Checker found, his administration never offered any proof of this claim and never identified any terrorists caught at the U.S.-Mexico border. What’s more, the State Department under Trump said that there’s “no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico, worked with Mexican drug cartels, or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States.”
The State Department also noted at the time that “there have been no cases of terrorist groups exploiting these gaps to move operations through the region.”
McCarthy, though, said on Monday that agents told him individuals from as far away as China with links to the terrorism watch list had recently been captured crossing the border.
“We asked them what countries are people coming from,” he told reporters. “Yemen, Iran, Sri Lanka, that’s what’s coming across. They even talked about Chinese, as well.”
His claims were echoed by Rep. John Katko (R-NY), who said that “people who they’ve got in the last few days … have been on the terror watch list,” Newsday reported.
Customs and Border Protection has not issued any public notices about terrorist suspects at the southern border in recent days. Border agents have found people crossing from some of the foreign nations that McCarthy noted, including 11 Iranians who were caught illegally crossing the border in early February near Yuma, Ariz.
Some Democrats on Monday questioned why border officials wouldn’t have informed them about any recent terrorism apprehensions.
Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat who represents the El Paso area, said she had also met recently with border agents and that none mentioned catching any terrorism suspects. Escobar accused McCarthy of using the claims “to fuel the divisions” in the country and stoke fear of immigrants.
Gallego said he would demand more details from McCarthy.
“I have have the same security clearance as you do,” Gallego wrote in a tweet that tagged McCarthy. “Can you have your office arrange for a classified briefing for members to see where this info derived from?”
Nanette Barragan, a Los Angeles, congresswoman who has been one of the fiercest and most outspoken activists on behalf of the children who were abused by the Trump Regime, told us this afternoon that she's "briefed regularly on the border as the House Homeland Committee Border Security Subcommittee Chair and recently visited San Ysidro Port of Entry. Issue raised by Minority Leader McCarthy is news to me. Wouldn’t be first time the GOP have used asylum seekers to stoke fear and xenophobia, but I'll request a briefing."
Marie Newman, who represents an immigrant-rich Chicagoland congressional district, told me this morning that "It is quite sad Leader McCarthy has resorted to fear mongering to divert attention from his party’s anti-American, anti-economy and inhumane policies. We have enough troubles in our country right now that are real, we do not need Kevin McCarthy fabricating and inciting fear, again."
Shervin Aazami is a progressive Democrat running for a San Fernando Valley congressional seat and he sees it much the way Marie Newman does: "Spurious and racist claims about terrorists crossing the border have been made for years to justify propping up our military-industrial complex and to criminalize our immigrant communities. Customs and Border Enforcement (CBP) apprehended over 396,000 people at the southern border in 2018 according to public records. A total of six were reported to be on the federal government's terrorist watch list. That's .00001 percent. McCarthy's baseless claims are about fear-mongering, not public safety. Lawmakers like McCarthy are more interested in serving the interests of their corporate donors-- which include private prisons, weapons manufacturers, and their lobbyists-- than ensuring we have a humane immigration system. Our immigration courts have a backlog of over 2 million people because annual spending on immigration and asylum courts are a fraction-- five percent-- of what we spend annually on rogue agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Budgets reflect priorities; and for people like McCarthy, the priority is criminalization, deportation, and incarceration."
UPDATE: What Would McCarthy's Favorite Poet Say?
A congressional staffer-- whose boss is among half a dozen House Democrats I spoke to today and who doesn't believe McCarthy but didn't want to go on record until after the classified briefing-- sent me this:
I do not believe the Republican Leader.
I do not believe him in a house.
I do not believe him with a mouse.
I do not believe him here or there.
I do not believe him anywhere.
He's as big of a joke as Lindsey Graham.
I do not believe him Sam-I-am.