Maribel Hastings and David Torres
The countdown has begun to the end of Title 42 this coming May 11. The occasion has generated fears within the Democratic administration in the face of an anticipated increase in migrants who present themselves at the southern border to seek asylum. Meanwhile, their Republican counterparts are rubbing their hands in anticipation of being able to exploit these images politically, to reinforce their narrative that the border region is in “chaos” and that the “blame” belongs to President Joe Biden and the Democrats.
This is a grotesque panorama in which political gamesmanship reigns, instead of treating this as a humanitarian problem—one in which thousands of migrants who have lost everything have been stranded, physically and psychologically, in a geographic region so far from their places of origin, and where it would be difficult for them to return on their own. The idea, at any rate, is to press forward until the objective is reached, regardless of the obstacles in the realm of U.S. policy.
If they were really worried about the “crisis” at the border, one would hope that Republicans appropriate the funds needed to manage the thousands of asylum applications that are expected per day, now that Title 42 is being eliminated, since they control the House of Representatives. But that is not the case. Their plan is to generate alarm among the people and activate their most recalcitrant base in order to take advantage of the situation for political ends.
That won’t be very hard for them, as they have been laying the groundwork for this even during the era of the Donald Trump presidency—who, despite losing decisively at the polls, maintains support from this sector of society that believes in conspiracy theories based on ignorance, racism, and xenophobia that have resulted in tragic acts of violence against minorities.
That is what the Republicans have done, time and time again throughout the previous decades, whether they were in the majority or the minority, occupying the White House or not, because solving the issues with a migration reform that addresses all of the various broken pieces of our migration system would supposedly rob them of their favorite card in the political game: using immigrants as scapegoats and immigration as a synonym for lack of control.
That is precisely where the Republican essence emanates from—and this is undeniable, as is their intention to disrupt the idea of the United States as a nation of immigrants, in order to turn it into the anachronism that the white supremacy, with all of its “privileges,” has become.
Because a nation as rich and powerful as the United States should have the capacity to process migrants who seek asylum in an effective and orderly way. That is what it has held up to others and presumed about itself throughout history.
Certainly, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates that between 9,000 and 14,000 migrants will arrive at the border daily when Title 42 is lifted. In fact, DHS requested $3.4 billion from Congress to implement its plan to manage the border between the United States and Mexico after Title 42 is over.
The United States has the capacity to face this moment, and the prospect of processing thousands of asylum applications per day should not become a nightmare. Instead, decisionmakers give the impression that what they fear the most is the perception, rather than the reality, considering at the end of it all it is the border: it is always moving, alive; detention figures rise and fall, and do not depend on Title 42 alone.
That is why we insist that this country, which has been able to process thousands of Ukrainian refugees, could do the same with those who come from Latin America—making the process an act of dignity rather than a media circus that extremist Republicans can exploit. That would be the litmus test for the Biden administration as well as its opponents, and especially for U.S. society as a whole, which would once again be faced with the dilemma of continuing to defend its principles and values, or discarding its humanitarian image as a welcoming nation.
There must be funds to have more agents and judges at the ports of entry to process applications in an expedited fashion, just like there must be resources to house people applying for asylum without them having to find shelter under bridges or in the streets of border towns. That doesn’t speak well about the “most powerful nation” in the world.
After all, the end of Title 42 is something that has been anticipated since it was implemented and, as the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed.
Maribel Hastings is a Senior Advisor to América’s Voice. David Torres is a Spanish-language Advisor at América’s Voice.
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