This week, House Republicans are pushing more of the same stunts as part of their baseless impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Instead of coming to the table with solutions to help fix our immigration system, Republicans have invited MAGA Sheriff Mark Dannels, a Republican repeat-witness known for his ties to an extremist anti-government movement as well as an anti-immigrant hate group.
This hearing is nothing new; it is merely the latest GOP distraction as they fail to take any action on immigration reform. Trump’s MAGA allies in Congress are following the Trump playbook once again, playing partisan political games to harm the Biden administration and hurt Democrats. House Republicans have sabotaged deal after deal on the border and spent nearly two decades walking away from the issue, rejecting bipartisan proposals over and over again. They have made it clear that they are more interested in scoring points with their MAGA base than actually reforming our country’s immigration system.
Sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona
Dannels Is A Repeat MAGA GOP Witness. MAGA House Republicans have already called on Dannels to serve as a witness multiple times since taking charge of the House just over a year ago. He testified in February 2023 to the House Judiciary Committee, and again in August 2023 to the House Oversight Committee.
Dannels Is Part of the Extreme “Constitutional Sheriffs” Movement. Dannels is a “Constitutional Sheriff” aligned with the Constitutional Sheriff and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), an extremist, anti-government organization falsely claiming that elected Sheriffs have the highest authority in the country and do not have to follow federal law. Dannels, who spoke at a CSPOA event in 2019, has similarly openly expressed support for the nullification of certain laws or mandates. Before the 2022 midterm elections, CSPOA officers threatened to disrupt Arizona’s electoral process by launching an effort to monitor elections, claiming they had legal power to personally investigate outlandish conspiracy theories. CSPOA also has close ties with the Oath Keepers – a group involved in planning and organizing the January 6th insurrection – and has endorsed the white nationalist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory.
Dannels Has Ties To An Anti-Immigrant Hate Group. Dannels has been linked to an anti-immigrant group known as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He spoke at a FAIR event in June 2021 and appeared in a video praising the group for “doing what you have to do for the country,” filmed at a FAIR event in September 2022.
Dannels Has Long Pushed The “Invasion” Conspiracy Theory Championed By White Nationalists. Dannels has a long history of pushing “invasion” rhetoric when referring to the southern border, a tactic frequently used by proponents of the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory championed by white nationalists across the country. In a May 2021 interview, Dannels referred to an influx of migrants at the southern border as an “invasion to their way of life,” and expressed fears about “the horrific event that is looming out there.” When Republicans invited him to a hearing last February, Dannels also submitted testimony making several references to an “invasion.”
Dannels Has Pushed False and Misleading Claims On Right-Wing Media About the Southern Border. Dannels has been called out numerous times for pushing false and misleading claims during his right-wing media appearances. In May 2022, the Arizona Republic found that Dannels cited statistics that “contradict other official statistics provided by Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” and made claims “in a number of misleading ways.” He inflated the number of migrants that had been released into the U.S. by several thousand, ignoring data released by his own county officials. Media Matters for America also called out his false and misleading claims as “fact-free fearmongering.”
Local Journalists Raised Concerns After Dannels Worked With A Wealthy Donor To Change Cochise County’s Sheriff Department Policies. While serving as Cochise County Sheriff, Dannels has come under fire for a wealthy donor’s growing influence in departmental affairs. Howard Buffett, the son of billionaire Warren Buffett, has donated tens of millions of dollars worth of equipment to Cochise County over the last decade and forged close ties with Dannels in the process. Local journalists have raised concerns about potential influence-peddling: “One could argue, though, that Dannels benefits politically from Buffett’s gifts, which can be used to create goodwill for the department. There’s an unseemly side to Buffett’s generosity — buying his way into friendship with the law-enforcement officers he admires in the places he lives.” Dannels has consulted Buffett on various departmental policy changes over the years and is even seeking to grant Buffett the right to act as a responding officer. Buffett is already listed as the responding officer in four traffic citations from 2016, and Dannels has told reporters, “There’s a process where I can swear him in, as long as he’s recognized by another state. We’re looking into that right now to see what we’re going to do. It’s under review.”