The relief that the transition of the power in the United States has finally ushered in, particularly among communities of immigrants, not only has an immediate historic impact, but an unprecedented humanitarian effect.
Passing from a xenophobic and racist administration, with imperialistic pretensions and neo-Nazi, supremacist, and domestic terrorist support—which tested its luck with the orchestrated attack on the Capitol this past January 6—to a clearly democratic government that bet everything on following the rules, marks a milestone that can already be written in this new chapter of U.S. history.
That is, those who attempt to unleash a new civil war through a coup d’état more typical of authoritarian nations who have been overrun by their own act are the very same ones who are pointed to, at this moment, not as defenders of a nation and its institutions, but as those who want to destroy a country and its history under orders of an aspiring autocrat. Someone who was never interested in others, not even his followers, and who abandoned and condemned them in the end, after the violence perpetrated on one of the most emblematic fronts in western democracy.
In contrast, the inclusion of an immigration reform proposal that is so broad it includes 11 million undocumented immigrants—who had become scapegoats for all things wrong in this country during the previous administration—automatically becomes, from the first day of Biden-Harris’ administration, a strong humanitarian response to the continuous and cruel attacks suffered by most immigrants during the preceding four years.
It has been a difficult labor—yet another one—that is teaching new generations how history is made, how it is told, and above all how to participate in it.
But the chapter, of course, doesn’t end there. From January 20, 2021 on, the second part of this pro-immigrant labor that has managed to democratically place Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House begins. They have a very broad and arduous agenda of reconciliation, in the context of an unending pandemic that, to this day, has claimed the lives of 400,000 U.S. Americans, and of a country whose image and most cherished and current values, acquired since the Civil Rights Movement, had been destroyed until now.
To this next step we also have to add, urgently, blocking the advance of any new wave of xenophobia-turned-political campaign. And that’s not only up to legislators, judges, and the very president of the country, but also society writ large. Of course, it requires a new culture of understanding and tolerance, within a framework of equity and ethical policy.
Hopefully the new political times will impose filters in electoral participation from the beginning, such that those who will try to alter the new rules of the game: those who include anti-immigrant, racist, xenophobic, or supremacist policy proposals in their platform, simply must not participate. Ideas like that have no place now in a 21st Century democracy. Moreover, they have proven to be counterproductive to those who use them to advance their agenda.
That, sadly, has been the final lashing out of the outgoing president, who dared to say in his farewell message: “We will be back, in some form,” like the villain in those high-budget, low-plot movies, who remained immobile after the battle, but unexpectedly launches the final blow, to the dread of the entire audience.
For that reason, nothing can be taken for granted, even under these circumstances. And the issue of immigration—for so long waiting to be resolved—demands full attention from the new administration to turn promises into reality.
It’s time to come through.
And that must be the unequivocal mantra of millions of immigrant voices who have waited so long for a response, seeing their life march on, remaking themselves every single day through work, and giving everything to a nation that is barely beginning to realize that they are here, and that they too have achieved the end of their oppressor.
To read the Spanish version of this article click here.