Maribel Hastings and David Torres
The Republican Party continues to solidify itself as an anti-immigrant entity with the annual CPAC meeting recently, with a conclave of extremists led by Donald Trump. And then there’s the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, armed with a platform centering anti-immigrant measures along his path to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
These are two political points with the same end: demonstrating who is more anti-immigrant, racist, and prejudiced in order to win the votes of this segment of the U.S. population that has believed the “replacement” falsehood and who is happy to feed off of hate rhetoric that has, unfortunately, led to massacres like the ones in El Paso in 2019 and Buffalo in 2022, among many others.
One only has to see that Trump and DeSantis are the two primary figures in the road to the Republican presidential nomination to understand that extremism has come to stay in that party. Of course, one should not overlook Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, who has also shown how cruel anti-immigrant policies can be along the border.
And while some Republican leaders, including DeSantis, believe that not having gone to CPAC differentiates them in some way from the Trump fanatics who now even preside over important committees in the House of Representatives, the reality is that they are the same thing. Because not denouncing the extremism of their peers makes them accomplices to the same prejudice. And speaking of DeSantis, specifically, he has an extensive resume of cruelty toward immigrants, beginning with his flights taking refugees to cities and states run by Democrats, or his proposal to arrest and jail mothers who take their undocumented children to school.
However, in another sign of the nearness of the 2024 presidential elections, the Democratic administration of Joe Biden is once again putting migrants and those who advocate for them on tenterhooks as we learn that they are considering reviving anti-immigrant measures implemented by Trump yet again—measures that Biden himself, as a 2020 candidate, denounced.
This political paradox means that thousands or millions of migrants who have lived decades with the hope of regularizing their situation are entering a state of miasma, confusion, and betrayal from the political class of either party. Because it’s not enough for one party to use the pro-immigrant struggle to create an image that is protective of migrants if in the end, once in power, they forget them and only concentrate on maintaining their position, at any cost—even adopting anti-immigrant measures that they previously condemned.
There are measures they could take without returning to cruelty against people.
Such is the case with the proposal to detain migrant families who cross the border without documents, as a mechanism of “deterrence” ahead of the imminent end of Title 42. The White House neither confirmed nor denied the rumor. What is known is that there are some who believe that an increase in the flow of migrants in light of the end of Title 42 would cost Biden politically, in his reelection plans, even though in 2020 he had promised more humane migration policies, different from those implemented by Trump.
The fact is, there are measures they could take without returning to cruelty against people, including children, who have already lived horrors in their journeys fleeing repressive governments, dealing with human traffickers and all the bad elements that migrants constantly face. Then the United States, self-proclaimed defender of the downtrodden, comes and puts the cherry on top of the cake with detentions and measures inclined more toward punishment than assistance. We can’t forget that all of these measures are being taken against potential asylum seekers.
And we’re back to where we started. In the face of criticism from a Republican Party controlled by extremists, a Democratic president prefers to cede to Republican pressure. But no matter what Biden does, his opposition will never be in line, much less collaborate to offer sensible legislative solutions to the problem. What’s worse is that he does this knowing that he is breaking campaign promises to an electoral group that has supported his party, election after election, despite those broken promises.
Beyond trying to re-cast Trump’s anti-immigrant measures and think that it’s not the same because a Democrat is implementing them, there’s no hiding the reality that they are repeating what they condemned when Trump did it. And that’s where the math doesn’t add up, as it seems obvious that both Republicans and Democrats just use the immigration issue for political ends—some attacking and others supposedly defending—but at the moment of truth they leave millions of human beings—who are already part of a society they have strengthened with their labor and dedication over various generations—adrift.
We’ve already had enough of a Republican Party that is synonymous with extremism and prejudice, that does not offer any plan to solve the migration dilemma, but does appeal to the darkest sentiments of humanity, attacking even the democracy that they claim to defend with their weak cries of electoral fraud.
Adding to that a Democratic administration and some Democrats in Congress who believe that what they propose is less onerous because a Democrat does it. This is a slap in the face not only to migrants seeking refuge in this country, but to others who have believed the promises of change on the migration front, only to bump up against the same cruel measures in disguise.
This migration dilemma puts at risk not only the immigrant essence of a country like the United States, but it also evidences the hypocrisy with which it has managed the immigration issue in recent years, leaving another paradox floating in the air: with friends like this, who needs enemies?
Maribel Hastings, Senior Advisor, América’s Voice. David Torres, Spanish-language Advisor, América’s Voice.
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