Michigan GOP lawmaker claims that buses carrying March Madness teams are ‘illegal invaders’

Mar 28, 2024, 12:30 PM

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (AP) — A right-wing Michigan state lawmaker who has been tied to former President Donald Trump and his election denials is being widely criticized after making claims that buses carrying college athletes to Detroit for March Madness were immigrant “invaders” being shuttled into the city illegally.

Michigan state House Rep. Matt Maddock made the claim Wednesday night in a social media post accompanied by photos of three buses near an Allegiant plane at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Maddock wrote that the buses “just loaded up with illegal invaders.”

“Anyone have any idea where they’re headed with their police escort?” Maddock wrote on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

Four college basketball teams traveling to Detroit for the second weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament arrived by plane Wednesday evening, the Wayne County Airport Authority said in a statement. The “buses seen in a photograph circulating online were transporting the basketball teams and their respective staffs,” the statement added.

Maddock’s post drew swift criticism on social media, with multiple accounts noting that an earlier post on the Gonzaga men’s basketball team’s social media page had indicated their departure for Detroit, featuring an Allegiant plane.

“A sitting State Representative sees a group of buses at the airport and immediately yells ‘illegal invaders’ which is a pretty rude (and also, frankly, dangerous) way to greet the Gonzaga Men’s Basketball Team arriving for March Madness,” state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, a Democrat, wrote on social media.

Maddock doubled down on his posts Thursday, adding that hundreds of thousands of “illegals are pouring into our country,” and into Michigan. In a text response to The Associated Press, Maddock declined to acknowledge that the buses were transporting basketball players.

“I haven’t heard a good answer yet,” Maddock wrote. “I took a tip and asked because this is happening in many places and it is well documented.”

Some Republicans who had initially echoed Maddock’s claims made in his original post, such as Michigan GOP chairman Pete Hoekstra, quickly backtracked.

A Republican representing parts of metro Detroit, Maddock has a history of being among the most far-right members in the Michigan Legislature. His wife, Meshawn Maddock, the former co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, is Trump in 2020.

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Michigan GOP lawmaker claims that buses carrying March Madness teams are ‘illegal invaders’