Let’s be clear. Whether it’s called a “crisis” or not, the situation at the border, with thousands of young people arriving alone every day, has occurred and will continue occurring whether or not Joe Biden is in the White House, or another Republican more recalcitrant than Donald Trump.
With Democrats or Republicans in power, migrants will continue to arrive all the time, because the conditions in their countries are only getting worse for those who are fleeing hunger, unemployment, violence by drug dealers and gangs; or for the parents who want to keep their daughters from being raped or kidnapped, or their sons from being recruited into gangs and cartels.
This whole semantic debate about how to name what is occurring at the border continues to be seen as a function of what is politically convenient for the parties in power. The Republicans, who applauded and encouraged Trump’s cruel and racist policies at the border, now have the audacity to allude to the humanity of migrant children not because they want to resolve the issue, but because even in the minority they control the media message, without saying, of course, that if there is any crisis, it was inherited because Trump dismantled all the refuge programs that allowed these children to request asylum from their countries of origin.
He also focused on sending immigrants back to México to make their asylum applications. He eliminated funds for programs to assist countries in the Northern Triangle of Central América, who are sending the most migrants to the United States.
But this matters to no one because they only see the increase in the arrival of migrants as a perfect argument to attack Biden, and many English language media outlets see it as the “story of the day” that is capturing attention, as if we did not have enough crises with COVID-19 and its economic effects, so we are going to blow the border issue out of all proportion, with the result of feeding the argument that is a ticking time bomb in the hands of the recently debuted Democratic administration.
Since the immigration debate for many of these English-language outlets are only seen as a function of the Washington political bubble, it’s almost laughable to see how they go to report from the border and finally realize that immigrants are real, they can speak and express why they are coming to this country. The desperation and lack of hope are the drivers and they would come whether Democrats or Republicans are in power.
If the Democrats expect Republican support to advance reform, better to forget the matter entirely. Unless, as always, they plan to use the argument about that lack of support as the eternal excuse for inaction.
Incidentally, it has been the Spanish-language media who have been reporting about this dynamic at the border, from the border, for decades, from the villages that send the most migrants north, and interviewing the protagonists of this drama so that they can say first-hand why they risk their lives to come here.
On the other side in this debate are the Democrats. Until now, the Biden White House has shown itself to be more receptive to looking for a humanitarian solution to the increase in the flow of young people and immigrants arriving at the border line. The question is, what will happen when the controversy tightens? Will things remain as they are or will they begin to cede territory and implement heavy-handed policies to show that all is under control?
This occurred during the administration of Barack Obama, who after promising reform and with the excuse of obtaining Republican “support” for said reform, increased deportations.
The Republican support never came then, and it will never come, because anti-immigrant rhetoric is their electoral stalking horse.
Now, unfortunately, the winds of the bipartisan argument are blowing in the Senate. Who in their right mind would believe that there will be Republican support for an immigration reform plan when this party did not even support the COVID rescue package, and not even the assault on the Capitol by Trump fanatics, which resulted in deaths, turned them against their leader?
The writing is on the wall. If the Democrats expect Republican support to advance reform, better to forget the matter entirely. Unless, as always, they plan to use the argument about that lack of support as the eternal excuse for inaction. The eternal “We tried, but Republicans blocked us” has already been perfected; but they should watch out, because they run the risk of alienating and disappointing a portion of the coalition of voters that catapulted them to the White House and their narrow majorities in Congress.
Therefore, whether you call it a crisis, a challenge, or dare, this is a decades-long program that has a complex solution for which it is necessary to invest political capital and courage. And this last one, when it comes to the issue of immigration, has always been scarce.
Maribel Hastings is a Senior Advisor to América’s Voice.
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