'Hellfire Missiles' For Mexico: Anti-Migrant Rhetoric Escalates At CPAC

'Hellfire Missiles' For Mexico: Anti-Migrant Rhetoric Escalates At CPAC

Stephen Miller

Anti-migrant rhetoric took center stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference as right-wing pundits and politicians unleashed a torrent of xenophobia over the course of several days, signaling the central role that nativism will likely play in the 2024 presidential election.

With former President Donald Trump now the de facto Republican presidential candidate, the entire right-wing media ecosystem has embraced his signature anti-immigrant positions. At CPAC, which took place just outside of Washington, D.C., this week, speakers baselessly blamed migrants for a host of perceived social ills and proposed radical policies to punish them and their home countries.

Fox News contributor Tom Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under Trump, pledged that his former boss would bomb Mexican drug cartels if given a second term.

“President Trump will declare them a terrorist organization, he will send a Hellfire rocket down there, and he’ll take the cartels out,” Homan said.

Even though launching missiles at the United States' neighbor and largest trading partner poses a number of obvious risks, Homan has long supported designating Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations to empower federal law enforcement to wage war against cartels on their home soil. Under Trump, Homan was one of the architects of the administration’s family separation policy, and he has extensive ties to the nativist Tanton network.

During a panel discussion about immigration, Homan — who has promised to return to government if Trump gets reelected and once again nominates him to lead ICE — repeated his promise to carry out the largest deportation operation in the country’s history.

"For the millions of illegal aliens that have been released in this country — don’t get too comfortable, because we’re coming looking for you,” Homan threatened. “There has to be an historic deportation operation at the end of historic illegal immigration,” he added.

Trump adviser Stephen Miller made similarly extreme comments and repeated his call for the military to establish “large-scale staging grounds for removal” of migrants. In Miller’s telling, “You grab illegal immigrants, and then you move them to the staging grounds, and that’s where the planes are waiting.”

“The military has the right to establish a fortress position on the border, and to say ‘No one can cross here at all,’” Miller added.

If a future Trump administration attempted to enact Miller’s policy wish list, it would almost certainly run into a number of legal, diplomatic, and logistical obstacles — not least of all that federal law bars the military from engaging in domestic law enforcement.

The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles dismissed the central role immigration played in the development of the United States.

“We are told that we must tolerate the destruction of our borders, and the invasion of our country, because we are a nation of immigrants,” Knowles said. "As a matter of history, we are not, in fact, a nation of immigrants,” he added.

Knowles is exactly wrong, though he is correct that the United States has a long history of anti-immigrant bigotry.

Last year, Knowles said that “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely,” a comment he referenced in his speech this year, folding it into his anti-immigrant rant.

“We know the difference between a man and a woman,” Knowles said. “We know the difference between an American and everyone else.”

Lara Trump, the former president’s daughter-in-law and current hopeful to co-run the Republican National Committee, fearmongered about the “millions and millions of people flooding into our country illegally” across the southern border who have been “given a red carpet rollout and reception by Joe and Kamala."

Ben Carson, who served as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Trump, warned that immigration is an existential threat to the United States.

Carson asserted: “Our leaders are determined to repeat every mistake that led to the collapse of empires before us.” Among those mistakes, he cited “mass immigration and infiltration by foreigners who don't share our values and culture or even our language."

For months, Trump and his advisers have previewed extreme plans to deploy the military and use law enforcement to deport as many as 10 million people living in the United States without authorization. The speakers at CPAC are joining others in right-wing media in helping to lay the foundation for that horrifying proposition — to standing ovations from an audience that demands nothing less.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.


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