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.
The Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, believes that the anticipated increase in the flow of migrants at the border when the so-called Title 42 policy is eliminated is an “invasion” and, to that end, has forecast the possibility that military intervention by the state, without violating federal law, may be justified. But according to the dictionary, “invasion” is defined as “entering a place by force in order to occupy it,” or “introducing oneself into matters or functions unrelated to you, without right or justification.”
With Abbott’s simplistic and anti-immigrant affirmations it can easily be inferred that this governor doesn’t have the foggiest idea about geopolitics, and especially does not understand how to differentiate analytical categories to approach a concrete regional problem, as is the U.S.-Mexico border. Above all, the Texas leader does not approach discerning that, upon irresponsibly invoking “articles of war,” he must justify before the law that the “invader” has a military strategy—that is, with weapons—which, of course, is false, as the only thing immigrants want is to seek asylum, and hope is their only “weapon.”
Whether this happens or not remains to be seen, but an action of this type has all the characteristics of culminating in a court battle. Even beyond this, the intentions of Abbott and other Republicans is to exploit the perception that a growing presence of migrants at the border line—many of whom are waiting for the elimination of Title 42 to seek asylum in the United States—constitutes an “invasion,” with the goal of influencing public opinion and riling up their anti-immigrant base.
Of course, that is nothing new. For several years we have read about the existence of paramilitary groups who assigned themselves the duty of “patrolling” the southern border, suited up in military protective gear, carrying high-caliber weapons, driving all-terrain vehicles and—especially—with that threatening, Hollywood-style look on their faces, to intimidate whoever dares come close. Groups like the Minutemen jumped onto the news scene some years ago, with their officially unregulated actions at the southern border.
Essentially, the fact that his words may influence those anti-immigrants who will no doubt literally take up arms to “defend” the border does not seem to matter to Abbott. We already saw their presence in 2019 when an unbalanced person, incited by the hate speech that Abbott and other anti-immigrants espoused, fired in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people and wounding dozens more. The victims were mostly Hispanic. The attacker, a white man, was accused (among other things) of committing hate crimes.
It is a fact the incendiary rhetoric generates violence, but this matters little to Republican figures like Abbott. They are only focused on exploiting the migration issue, not looking for solutions to what is not working in the immigration system.
But if they want to talk about real invasions, let’s mention a recent one: the bloody seizure of the federal Capitol on January 6, 2021 by Donald Trump fanatics, who intended to block certification of Joe Biden’s victory as President of the United States. That did constitute a violent invasion that resulted in deaths and injuries. And it was provoked by incendiary rhetoric from Trump himself, and his lieutenants, who, to this day, continue to minimize what the entire world witnessed: a racist, angry mob that was trying to topple the state, convinced that the election had been “stolen” from Trump, something that the ex-president continues to affirm.
More invasions? Grenada, Panama, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Central America, Haiti, Mexico, and a million more. Get it?
For that reason, it’s unbelievable that the same Republicans who are talking about an “invasion” by undocumented people are the very ones who have obstructed all attempts at regularizing the status of the millions of human beings who are already among us, because that way they can continue to exploit immigrants’ hard work in essential areas of our economy without providing them with labor protections. That’s capitalism in its highest expression, a supply and demand that does not bother them—until election time. Then, as defenders of law and order, they are “more Catholic than the Pope.”
Speaking of law and order, Republicans also complain about drug trafficking at the border and inside the country, blaming only Mexico. But we all know that drug trafficking, which has taken hundreds of thousands of lives in Mexico, is provoked by the consumption of drugs in the United States.
Faced with this reality that constantly blows up in their faces, they only make excuses that re-victimize the society that consumes mind-altering drugs, since at no point did it occur to them to end this multimillion dollar international business, whose profits also extend tentacles into U.S. territory. As the saying goes, “it takes two to tango.”
In sum, the word “invasion” is easily used by anti-immigrants. Immigrants don’t abandon their countries for nothing. They make the trip north looking for a better life. Their “weapon” is their work, which is exploited with poverty wages, without benefits or protections. Right now, immigration reform that would regularize the status of those who already live among us, and establish mechanisms so that those who want to work can do so without needing to cross the border without documents, is ironically blocked by the same Republicans who accuse migrants of “invading us.”
It’s really those Republicans who have “invaded” their party, converting it into a collective dominated by xenophobes and racists, embroiled in a war against diversity—which has been the hallmark of this social experiment we call the United States.
To read the Spanish version of this article click here.