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GOP Lawmaker Thinks He Exposed Busload of ‘Illegals’ … It Was the Gonzaga Basketball Team

March Madness is certainly in full swing.

On Friday, the fifth-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the top-ranked Purdue Boilermakers in the Sweet 16 round of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament in Detroit. It should be an epic showdown for a dominant pair of teams, but Michigan state Rep. Matt Maddock apparently had issues more pressing than college sports in mind when he posted an alarming tweet on Wednesday night.

“Happening right now,” Maddock wrote. “Three busses [sic] just loaded up with illegal invaders at Detroit Metro. Anyone have any idea where they’re headed with their police escort?” Attached to the tweet were grainy photos of white buses at Detroit’s airport and a plane. He tagged Pete Hoekstra, a former representative for Michigan in Congress and ambassador to the Netherlands under Donald Trump.

Maddock’s pointed question, which has apparently been viewed 4 million times on X (formerly Twitter), is of a piece with far-right conspiracy theories about how the Biden administration is secretly flying thousands of migrants into the country. These unfounded claims have fueled belief in the so-called “Great Replacement” theory, which holds that the population of white Americans is being overwhelmed by nonwhite demographics with the help of Democrats and other nefarious actors. That racist ideology has inspired mass shootings and found proponents in the likes of Elon Musk and House Speaker Mike Johnson.

The Maddock tweet, then, might have been no more than the usual paranoid ravings of a rank-and-file GOP politician who denies the 2020 election results and believes the U.S. is headed into civil war. Except in this case, he had identified transportation for Gonzaga’s basketball team — they had arrived for their Friday game with Purdue — as evidence of an influx of undocumented migrants. Even when confronted with this likelihood, he dismissed it as a “kommie” talking point. Maxwell White, a producer for Detroit’s WXYZ Channel 7, confirmed that the buses were for Gonzaga, while Rep. Eric Swalwell of California ridiculed Maddock for the mistake. On Thursday, X appended a Community Note correcting the original post.

The Gonzaga team’s own account on Wednesday shared images of players deboarding in Detroit from the Allegiant Air plane visible in one of the pictures that Maddock shared. Nevertheless, Maddock continued to push his lie on Thursday, tweeting that “100,000’s of illegals are pouring into our country” and that Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer “is offering money to take them in!” He also retweeted a post from right-wing talk-radio host Jesse Kelly, who wrote that red states should seize control of immigration systems from federal authorities in order to deport individuals. Kelly was responding to an X user proclaiming the need for a leader like Spanish fascist dictator Francisco Franco.

As yet, Maddock appears to have taken no notice of the thousands of replies mocking him for the false identification of celebrated American college athletes as “invaders” from across the border, and at this point, it doesn’t look like he’ll be backing down. Whether he turns up at Little Caesars Arena tomorrow to confront the Gonzaga Bulldogs in person remains to be seen — but either way, he must be rooting for Purdue.

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