The second decade of this controversial 21st century has nearly concluded and the “bet” on immigrants and the historical significance of their contributions remain undeniable.
So much so that even on the doorstep of the presidential elections, the very same ones that for their complexity could become another watershed moment in the destiny of the United States, the job of being an immigrant reflects all the time on what really makes up the amalgamation that is this country.
In fact, the worldwide parenthesis that the coronavirus pandemic has become has not completely overshadowed the immigration issue, since despite the fact that the number one priority for all of humanity in this moment is combating and, of course, eradicating this illness that has gravely affected public health, there is no political actor that has no nexus with the issue of migration; neither those that would like to unlink it from local, state, and national history, nor those who connect the historic and economic importance of those who, with documents or without, have revitalized U.S. society to the point of giving it a new face and many voices that already define her present and future.
In this dilemma, today’s actual voter has been placed, in a situation a little bit “Manichean” that has even decontextualized the very essence of the migration issue and has collaterally divided the form of interpreting, well beyond the symbolic, the human necessity of counting on a demographic that guarantees the continuation of this unique and, perhaps, unrepeatable social experiment.
And there is no survey that does not measure the support that the immigrant receives in the popular U.S. conscience, and for the most part the results speak for themselves. For example, a recent poll from the Pew Research Center found that the 60% of voters in this country recognize that immigrants strengthen society, compared to 2016 when only 46% responded that way. On the other hand, the percent of people who fear that the immigrant threatens the values and traditions of the United States fell to 37% in 2020, while this worry reached 50% in 2016.
However, one only has to look at the large number of electoral ads that are still run against the presence of the immigrant, especially the Latino immigrant, which insist on denigrating and blaming them for all the ills that only the worldwide socio-economic behavior is responsible for, with a great deal of xenophobia and racism: expulsion from countries of origin waves of human beings that, like long-lost ancestors, are just trying to guarantee their survival.
It’s strange, but those who don’t understand it this way—relying only on the convenient “legal” aspect, including other Latinos who are better off—have returned all the time to a digressive tool that, from four years ago until today, has made scapegoats out of farmworkers, TPS beneficiaries, Dreamers, and asylum seekers—with family separation and severe trauma to young migrants as a consequence—and of any other aspiring immigrant to this country who at some point considered it to be his only chance at salvation for the dispossessed.
That discourse, certainly, did not work at all for the anti-immigrant people in 2018, when its main promoters lost important electoral contests decisively. Still, they insist on reusing it.
And it does not matter if immigrants, undocumented or not, have already shown without a doubt how essential they are, especially in the critical moment in which this nation has required it to show up, just like other social groups, whether to combat the pandemic or ensure the functioning of society through the distribution of essential goods that help the economic chain grind on, day after day. The point is that the ideological manual that the xenophobe follows to the letter ends up being his imaginary electoral pre-ballot, coming to conclusions that endanger the social contract and, at the same time, take this country back to the origins of its very racism, the one that it was supposedly already learning to overcome.
Those who confuse the maturity of a nation like the United States with the power of white supremacy ignore that this country can no longer be seen in “black and white,” but that its innumerable social nuances must be the new guide to countering the authoritarianism that has been installed in the White House, and avoid having intolerance, of any type, prevail over common sense.
To read the Spanish version of this article click here.