Washington, DC – Below is a column by Maribel Hastings and David Torres from America’s Voice en Español translated to English from Spanish. It ran in several Spanish-language media outlets earlier this week:
Unless higher forces intervene, Donald Trump is expected to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024. With that will come a repeat of the 2020 duel versus Joe Biden, who this time is president, and with Immigration and the border at the center of the contest once again.
This historic political-electoral mix already has the flavor of revenge on at least two different levels. On the one hand, it represents the opportunity for the Republican ex-leader to return to the White House and conclude the anti-immigrant and white supremacist policies that were left half done. On the other, it is the most appropriate scenario for Biden to deliver a Democratic slap in the face to the forces that attempted a coup d’état while attacking the Capitol in 2021, egged on by Donald Trump himself with his anti-immigrant agenda in tow.
Because if anything has remained clear about Trump, it is that the immigration issue is his favorite workhorse. He briefly mentions other topics like the economy, but returns to immigration as the demagogic weapon that catapulted him to the presidency in 2016, for being the issue that truly moves his base. A base that it seems has no political interest in other matters of national relevance, but rather an ideological and racial contrivance smeared with migration morbidity. That is the cloud on which they float.
Trump won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, leaving the former United Nations ambassador and ex-governor of South Carolina, Nikki Hayley in the dust. And since the ninety-one federal and state charges that Trump is facing in four court cases do not impede him from being a candidate, and fail to faze both the leadership of the Republican Party and its voters, the rest of the primary process is just an exercise.
In that respect, it’s worth underlining what the U.S. political system is dangerously showing to the world, at least since 2016, which is nothing more than a gross permissiveness, having opened the door to a character like Trump, replete with all the imperfections that political ethics and a more elemental humanism combat, now shining for their absence.
Essentially, if one listens to Trump’s speeches, they would realize that apart from his references to himself, and complaint of being a “victim” of a “witch hunt” by opposition politicians, the constant among his messages is extremist rhetoric about the border and immigrants.
In fact, that seems to be the strategy, sustained by the belief that the situation cities like New York, Chicago, and Boston are facing—with the arrival of refugees sent by the Republican Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott—has made independent voters uncomfortable.
They even see an opening with Latino voters, and claim that they are “abandoning” the Democrats “massively,” when the reality is that the Hispanic vote continues to be majority Democrat. Though, for being diverse in terms of nationality, generation, ideology, and states where they live, there is a little bit of everything: Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and the disaffected who do not vote.
More still, a recent poll from UnidosUS found that Latinos reject many of the policies and messages of the Republicans, and think that the Democrats manage the issues that concern them better. For example, the survey found that immigration, while important, is not Hispanics’ central preoccupation. Those are inflation, jobs and the economy, health, criminality, and guns, as well as the cost of living.
In addition, on the matter of immigration, Latino voters’ points of view are diametrically opposed to what Trump and the Republicans are proposing: they strongly support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and Dreamers; they support better asylum laws, and policies that allow immigration through legal routes: there show less support for focusing on border security, and very low backing for mass deportation plans.
But Trump has promised mass deportations, to begin when he assumes the presidency in January 2025, if he does beat Biden.
It is precisely those type of ideas that President Biden should consider, now that we are at the doors of a deal between Republicans, Democrats, and the White House over the plan for aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, which involves changes to asylum laws, measures to reform security at the border with Mexico, and apparently changes to programs like parole, which have opened legal path for immigration. Accepting extreme migration measures only strengthens Trump.
In fact, various Republican senators have said as much.
“When the bill is released and everyone – especially conservatives and President Trump – sees the tools that will be available to a President Trump should he win the election, to lose this opportunity to get it into law, I think is malpractice,” declared the Republican senator from North Carolina, Thom Tillis.
But Biden, despite having instituted 535 immigration actions in his term so far, seems to find himself between a rock and a hard place: ensuring that his central foreign policy issue, Ukraine, obtain funds to continue combating the Russian invasion; or ceding to Republican demands on immigration matters, along the way disappointing pro-immigrant groups and, even worse, the voters for whom this issue determines how or whether they will vote at all. And in the face of Trump and a highly enthusiastic MAGA base, every vote counts.
To read the Spanish version of this column click here.