While the world removes itself from itself due to the social distancing that the coronavirus pandemic has made obligatory, there are those in power who take advantage of even this misfortune to continue their anti-immigrant, racist, and xenophobic policy agenda. It is not difficult to guess who we are talking about when the proposal is to close the border to impede the passage of asylum seekers, with the pretext of avoiding the “spreading” of the pandemic in U.S. territory.
Seeing the map of COVID-19 in real-time, however, is what the president’s team of advisors are missing; above all his principal immigration advisor, Stephen Miller. The number of infected people in the United States exceeds 7,000, while the deaths approach more than 100. From the Rio Grande on down, things in this sense continue to be very different, with much fewer cases, even in the middle of permanent crises, not only in health matters but also in the economy. In fact, the “Chagas” disease, for example, is the one that kills the most people in the Latin American region, with 14,000 deaths per year and some 6 million infected, according to health officials.
In that way, it is no secret that in its eagerness to see their dreams crystallized, of a country where white supremacy prevails in all corners once again, the White House has been converted into a bunker out of which emanate the most intricate plans to ensure that anything that looks or sounds “immigrant” remains far away at all costs, especially if it is poor and not white.
But in a situation that is out of everyone’s control and that demands absolute solidarity —because both this country and the entire world make up the same boat that we are all navigating— it is more than evident that the xenophobia of Trump and his buddies turns out to be infamous in all aspects.
A global public health crisis like the coronavirus does not choose its victims by origin, neither by color, gender, level of education, nor immigration status. We have a goal of helping to resolve, as quickly as possible, the pandemic and advance in medical terrain to have a better response in a future similar situation.
However, what we have gotten from Trump and his advisors has not been the best, but the worst, since the beginning. They failed to give due importance to the outbreak of coronavirus when it was time; in fact, they minimized the impact that this illness could have, just like they constantly deny the effects of climate change and other anomalies for which the planet is already complaining. And only when the water was up to their neck, with the unstoppable report of infected cases and mortal victims, did they recognize their mistake and the seriousness of this new health crisis, in such a way that there was no alternative but to proclaim safeguarding orders, with a tone that seemed, finally, responsible and presidential.
However, it’s a fact that their narcissism, combined with racism and discrimination, is never going to change. Trump continues to call Covid-19 the “Chinese virus,” to make it clear that “the other” and “the foreigner” are bad, and as such are a “threat” to his plans for hegemony. As the saying goes: “The tiger cannot change his stripes.” That is what xenophobia is. And that is his vision for the world, focusing more on blaming and punishing immigrants, instead of having concentrated from the beginning on other tasks better suited to the President of the United States, like ordering tests to diagnose the disease and directing resources to those already affected. With two months behind us, the situation continues to be out of control.
Trump is dangerously playing the same games he did four years ago, egging on his base with anti-immigrant red meat, talking about closing the southern border and building migrant camps destined to become quarantined. With this, he is not trying to win over the confidence of the people, but to demonstrate his racism and xenophobia in order to score political points with his anti-immigrant base.
But if something can change the presence of the coronavirus it will be the political scene, not only locally but worldwide.
That is, obviously when all of this is over, the world will not be the same. This global parenthesis, opened up by a pandemic, is throwing for a loop all of the paradigms we knew to be “reality.” And this monitoring of our behavior, of our reactions as human beings, will be part of the social evaluation that will surely result in a new world order, where hopefully racism and xenophobia no longer have a place and stop being the anachronism that they were today.
And while it’s true that this new advancement in human history did not need an armed conflict during one of the most anti-immigrant moments in the history of the United States, its impact has to have a larger significance, and not just leaving millions of immigrants in a type of secondary limbo, people who continue to be scapegoats of an arrangement so cruel like that which has been installed in the White House.
David Torres is a Spanish-language Advisor at America’s Voice.
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