tags: Press Releases

The failed “walls” of anti-immigrant rhetoric

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Washington, DC – Below is a column by David Torres from America’s Voice en Español translated to English from Spanish. It ran in several Spanish-language media outlets earlier this week.

Trump’s border wall has turned out to be useless and unusable—at least for the purposes devised by his sick mind, before and during his administration. That architectural and anti-immigrant million-dollar failure has been breached by smugglers more than 3,000 times, according to a journalistic study recently published by The Washington Post.

This is relevant because it exposes various aspects of a lie, disguised as protection of the most-transited border in the world. And it is, at the same time, a reflection of how this anti-immigrant rhetoric that is resurging, with an eye toward the midterm elections this year, could be effective in the short term, yes, but definitely a fiasco long-term and counterproductive in every way.

If you look closely, the “white elephant” that Trump’s vulnerable wall has become is, right now, the most emblematic symbol of the conservative position that neither protects the border, nor stops the immigration flow. It is, at any rate, a monument to the political banality and an anachronism of modern technology that is transforming everything now.

Between 2019 and 2021, according to the investigation referred to in the preceding paragraphs, more than $2.6 million was spent repairing the structure, after smugglers perforated the wall more than 3,200 times.

That money, of course, was paid by U.S. taxpayers—just like they paid for  sections of the wall—and not Mexico, as the former leader had pontificated every time he needed to rile up his enablers in search of votes.

But it’s not only that type of wall that is edified in those moments of conservative, anti-immigrant rhetoric. Considering the “walls” built by the Republican Governor of Texas, Greg Abbot, and Florida, Ron DeSantis, one realizes that their insistence on using the same strategies of excluding everything that has to do with immigration has turned them into political “clones” of the person who occupied the White House between 2016 and 2020.

For example, Abbot went so far as to celebrate the first anniversary of the so-called “Operation Lone Star” in Texas, designed, according to him, to protect the border that belongs to his state. And while it is true that the Governor gave astronomical figures like the detention of more than 200,000 migrants including, he said, dangerous gang members, we cannot forget that this operation also had collateral victims such as immigrants who only wanted to seek asylum, but were incarcerated for weeks or months in abusive conditions, without access to due process, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In La Opinión, HRW Executive Director Nicole Austin declared that Operation Lone Star has “led to serious due process and civil rights abuses, made a mockery of the Texas judicial system, and fomented dangerous xenophobia.” This on top of the inconvenience to soldiers from the Texas National Guard, whose first contingent was only 500 infantrymen, but continued to grow to a total of 10,000, in  a $100 million operation.

“The detained migrants are turned over to the Border Patrol, processed, and some are freed  and enter the country. So why are we here?” asked a soldier also cited by La Opinión. “They are just using us for a photo op and to ‘show’ that they are taking a strong position against immigration.”

Another example of the real, anti-immigrant purposes of a border operation of this size.

But Florida is not far behind in its anti-immigrant posture. Its recent bills (SB 1808 and HR 1355) focus on attacking so-called “sanctuary cities,” on top of obstructing contracts with companies who transport undocumented immigrants to the state. On the other hand, local leaders have asked Governor DeSantis to withdraw his decree to close migrant children shelters, and stop using them for political purposes.

The established Venezuelan community in Florida has also reacted against these proposed bills, having detected their true, anti-immigrant essence. In fact, in a letter sent to the political class in this state, signatories explained that “as it is written, this legislation would define us as ‘unauthorized foreigners’ because our work permit applications are delayed, for reasons we have nothing to do with.”

As you can see, the impertinence of the anti-immigrant wing is constantly exposed, despite their efforts to cloak their campaigns through bombastic construction projects, “operations,” and legislation that tend to make the undocumentedeven more vulnerable, they are intent on currying political favor from voters. The Democrats, of course, are not too far behind and right now, the greatest challenge for the Biden administration is that it has not yet accomplished what it promised on the issue of immigration.

Nevertheless, it is true that the reality of today’s United States breaches not only impressive border fences, but also those other failed “walls” that are anti-immigrant campaigns, no matter how aggressive they are.

Read the Spanish version of this column here.