If there are two topics that define, in many ways, the immigration policy of the current government of the United States they are, on the one hand, the stubborn intention of constructing a wall on the border with Mexico and, on the other, the separation of immigrant families.
Both have served to consolidate the loyalty of the president’s base, in such way that it’s not a coincidence that these topics have been introduced once again into both the official discourse as well as media coverage, even in the midst of one of the most lethal pandemics in this country, the very same which has become an inconvenient stone in the shoe for the leader, as the presidential election draws near.
In fact, the avalanche of observations that are made day after day about the management of this public health crisis, provoked by the outbreaks of COVID-19 in practically the entire country, are multiplying like foam, and he can do nothing about it other than returning to the same strategy that helped him beat his political rivals.
In that way the border wall has been, is, and always will be his “workhorse,” and it is easy to infer that he will beat it to the death in order to not lose support from his traditional followers.
The proposed painting of the border wall that is being constructed near Mexico some days ago, a project that would cost $500 million, sends a clear and direct message about presidential priorities. So does the fact of his having awarded a contract of $1.3 billion for the construction of more than 42 miles of fencing to a builder from North Dakota who, according to The Washington Post, has made donations to the Republican Party and praised Trump and his policies.
But the topic of the wall has been surpassed by another no less recurring, but just as completely cruel and typical of today’s White House’s insensitivity regarding the consequence of the immigration policies: the separation of families, which supposedly had stopped taking place, with the burst of national and international condemnation for the inhumane treatment that is given to immigrants upon crossing the border after arriving in caravans in search of asylum, especially children. It has emerged again, according to a series of complaints from impacted individuals.
Their testimonies, collected and published by different media outlets, give light to the existence of a questionnaire in which parents are offered again two options: remain detained together, or go ahead and separate from their children, with the idea that they would be placed in the care of relatives who are already in the United States or, ultimately, be adopted by other families.
All this occurs in the midst of a pandemic that is, at the same time, serving to catalyze this new correlation of national and international forces, of which nobody knows for sure how it will end, nor who will come out on top geopolitically-speaking when everything “normalizes” and the controllers of an uncertain “new world order” are rearranged.
What is certainly foreseeable though is that the electoral campaign that is kicking off will be one of the dirtiest, hate-filled, and most despicable that has ever been seen in this part of the world, and that no one, at least no political actors, will be unscathed.
And in the middle of all of this, of course, immigrants will be the ones to tip the scales and incline things toward the unpredictable in November. The deportation of almost 1,000 unaccompanied migrant children, which has been discovered and reported recently, speaks to an official position that will not be stopped or diverted in focus, especially as it has to do with human beings that come from nations which the president does not value at all.
At the end of the day, alongside the fight against COVID-19, whose management has also fully entered the U.S. political gamesmanship, are other aspects of the immigration subject that go beyond the wall and family separation, including the rejection or defense of programs like DACA or TPS, must to mention two priorities on whose survival depend hundreds of thousands of people who now also find themselves on the frontlines of the battle to abate the public health crisis that involves us all.
The president can refuse to wear face masks during his public activities in order to show “strength” to his loyal followers; but what he cannot do is to bury his head in the sand before a more than complicated immigration reality, exacerbated now by a virus that has put a check on any exclusionary political strategy.
To read the Spanish version of this article click here.