Last week, a cartoon appeared on the Jefferson County Republican Party’s Facebook page that depicted a caricature of President Joe Biden saying that “illegal immigrants and Afghan refugees” will be sent to Republican-dominated states.
The Jefferson County GOP has since deleted the post. Don Rosier, the vice-chair of the group, didn’t return a call from the Colorado Times Recorder seeking an explanation for the removal of the cartoon and his broader thoughts on the accusation that Democrats want to use immigrants for political gain.
The cartoon is indicative of a greater trend within right-wing discourse: namely, predictions that non-white immigrants and refugees will flood into predominantly white nations, causing a drastic demographic shift favoring Democrats. This conspiracy theory is known as the “great replacement theory.”
French writer Renaud Camus, who popularized the phrase “great replacement,” has professed a belief that this so-called replacement will lead to the extinction of the white race. The conspiracy theory has since been adopted by several white nationalist groups.
Patrick Crusius, who killed 20 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas in August 2019, posted a manifesto online prior to the shooting that promoted the great replacement theory. In the manifesto, titled “The Inconvenient Truth,” Crusius wrote that “if we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can be more sustainable.”
“The Democrat party will own America and they know it. They have already begun the transition by pandering heavily to the Hispanic voting bloc in the 1st Democratic Debate,” the manifesto also stated.
In April, Fox News host Tucker Carlson echoed these claims when he promoted the conspiracy theory in a news segment, saying, “The Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the third world.”
“Every time they import a new voter, I become disenfranchised as a current voter,” Carlson said.
The conspiracy theory was recently promoted by U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO).
In a Facebook video, Boebert said “Yes, there is definitely a replacement theory that’s going on right now.”
The cartoon posted by the Jefferson County GOP seemingly echoes these claims, with the artist claiming that immigrants and refugees are being specifically sent to Republican states as part of this forcible demographic shift.
In spite of this alleged disenfranchisement, white people still hold the majority of power within the U.S. government, with 23% of current U.S. representatives and senators belong to racial and ethnic minorities, according to the Pew Research Center.
Additionally, according to the Center for American Progress, whites made up 69% of all eligible voters during the 2016 election. By their projections, this number will drop to 59% by 2036. This is far from the drastic shift that Carlson and others claim is taking place.
The cartoon also specifies that these immigrants are “unvaxxed.” The implication here is that these immigrants are significantly more likely to carry COVID-19, and that they will spread the virus to the Republican communities Joe Biden is supposedly sending them to.
A. F. Branco, a right-wing political artist who drew the original cartoon, also drew another cartoon claiming that loosening restrictions on the southern border would allow “disease,” among other things, to enter into the U.S.
Branco is not the only Republican championing this idea. Several Republican politicians have claimed that COVID-19 is spreading from migrants at the southern border, including Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas), who, in an interview with Fox News, accused the Biden administration of “allowing (a) free pass into the United States of people with a high probability of COVID, and then spreading that COVID in our communities.”
According to CBS, during one week in late July, migrants released from U.S. custody in McAllen had a COVID positivity rate of 14.8%, compared to Texas’ statewide positivity rate of 18.7%. The high rates among immigrants are partially due to how many of them are tested, according to Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel at the American Immigration Council.
“Migrants are in many ways the most tested group in the country. No other group of people in the entire country is being tested at a near-100 percent rate,” Melnick told the Washington Post. “So when we talk about infection rates of migrants, what we actually know is that a lot of people who are testing positive are asymptomatic; who, if they were in the United States, would have just never been tested.”
Jason Salzman contributed to this article.