If anything has become clear in just one month of the new U.S. administration, it’s the significant turn that the immigration issue has taken. It has gone from a most absolute and humiliating assault over the past four years, to a more humanitarian focus to try to find a long-awaited solution for millions of immigrants who have sacrificed everything to be here.
It sounds Utopian, of course, for a change of this nature to take place overnight, especially knowing that there are still anti-immigrant forces, wallowing in their own defeat, who would like to reemerge with even more hate; but the evident contrast that can be perceived in this moment—which promises to be historic—offers a clearly hopeful perspective, not only for those who have anxiously looked for ways to resolve their immigration status since forever, but also the entire country that, with it, guarantees its demographic and multicultural continuity as one of the leaders of the concert of nations.
Good intentions, of course, are not enough. Politically-speaking, it would be better to achieve it than not; that is clear for both the immigrants and the political forces that use the issue in their own way. For example, the discrete decision to reopen a detention center in Texas to house unaccompanied child migrants has been like a stick in the eye, recalling one of the most controversial topics of the previous administration. There will surely be more missteps like that in the coming months, and it will be necessary to address these failures to avoid falling into a minefield of contradictions.
But the very idea that today’s White House no longer emits epithets and humiliations against undocumented immigrants alleviates social tensions and improves, somewhat, the precarious image the United States came to have between 2016 and 2020, when the favorite “sport” of the then-president was to make undocumented immigrants, especially those of color, into scapegoats for the most pressing problems of a society as complex as it is capricious, benefitting from a code of privileges that impeded its view of “the other.”
But this precise new wisdom, this new leap toward maturity as a country, is a direction that the current administration is not taking on its own, but in accordance with the very demands of a changing society, which evolves all of the time and remakes itself even under the most adverse conditions, like what we are living today, in the middle of a pandemic that is shared, of course, with the entire world.
The very advantage of the United States in the 21st century is in this area of a new social conscience, especially taking into account that, in poll after poll, we find that a majority of the U.S. population is completely on board with resolving once and for all the situation of the 11 million undocumented immigrants, putting them on a path to citizenship.
Essentially, we are learning to construct a new nation of immigrants. And strangely, we are in the last week of the second month of 2021, and it is already evident that something is moving in the right direction regarding the immigration question in the United States.
One has to, then, take advantage of this moment to strengthen this new “immigration era,” not over-politicizing it, but humanizing it, with the goal of reaching at least two new levels of victory over racism and supremacy: immediately stopping the resurgence of “Trumpism” with public policies that include all of what the previous administration rejected and denigrated, especially through xenophobia; and, to achieve this, consolidating a future social and civic force so strong that it allows no space again for racism, supremacy, anti-immigrant sentiment, and xenophobia.
Such a force would have to make those who had opted for the neo-fascist practices that characterized the prior administration to feel ashamed; ashamed for not being part of a new nation where the vast majority wants to live free of the ghosts we believed to have eradicated in the past.
If in this new, inclusive society—which is still in the chrysalis stage—those who prefer to continue listening to the siren call of xenophobia and racism do not feel comfortable, they of course have the option to migrate with complete freedom to other parts of the planet where they feel more accepted by the anachronism of their ideas, together with the slimy substance of supremacy.
But not here.
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