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:
June is Immigrant Heritage Month, and although this country has been built and sustained by immigrants throughout its history, this commemoration is marked with the full frontal attacks that they are suffering at this moment in time. This is particularly true of Republicans who are seeking their party’s presidential nomination, like former President Donald Trump and the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis.
They also attack immigrants through state laws and initiatives, as in Florida and Texas, to demonize and persecute undocumented people, even though it adversely affects their economies, image, and the situation of thousands of families with mixed immigration statuses.
It seems that the U.S. social fabric, so rich and culturally diverse, is not of interest to the Republican side; rather, what they are trying to do is convert this country into an exclusive enclave where minorities, especially if people of color, do not have possibilities of getting ahead, despite their many contributions.
For example, after the end of Title 42, border crossings sunk to their lowest level in the presidency of Democrat Joe Biden. However the Republicans, who anticipated an unmitigated chaos that they could exploit, politically and electorally, continue to act as though the border line is completely out of control, since this narrative fits their extremist and anti-immigrant electoral message.
They ignore, for example, that the border region has its own life; that the “chaos” they claim is, at any rate, a natural geographic dynamic that has developed over the course of more than a century, and keeps the two nations permanently in contact due to the multimillion dollar trade in this area.
On the other hand, it’s not only about vilifying undocumented immigrants. Those migrants who arrive in search of asylum are also targets. Last weekend Spanish-language media widely reported on the arrival of 16 Venezuelan and Colombian asylum seekers to Sacramento, who were brought by private plane and then left in front of a church. A second flight with a score of immigrants arrived Monday, also to Sacramento.
The California Attorney General’s office says that these migrants were taken to this state from Texas via New Mexico by the same company that conducted the flights ordered by Governor DeSantis last year. It’s worth pointing out that other Republican governors, from Texas and Arizona, have sent buses with migrants to cities run by Democrats. But DeSantis has gone a step further, with flights that didn’t even originate in Florida.
This sort of intrusion in federal matters and in other states may give DeSantis political points in the short term, but in the long term he will be the one on the losing end, as he will never be able to disentangle himself from the image of an anti-immigrant rabble-rouser who in no way benefits Florida or its people, as much as they back him.
On July 1 the law enacted by DeSantis—considered the most severe in the nation when it comes to undocumented immigrants—will be implemented. Using people seeking asylum to attack President Biden, and accuse him of having “open borders,” is perverse. But what’s even more perverse is the undisguised racism of these laws, which Republicans will surely use to commemorate their own “Republican Anti-Immigrant Heritage Month.”
However, among so many dark clouds are rays of light.
The media has also reported on the U.S. residents who are welcoming people seeking asylum with open arms. Many have shown up to shelters in various parts of the country bringing clothing, baby formula, and basic necessities. Many Americans have stepped up to help these people seeking asylum. On top of Venezuelans, Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans are also eligible for humanitarian parole.
We cannot forget that among all of those people seeking asylum, and other migrants, there are surely future leaders and people who, through their dreams and effort, will expand this nation. Closing the door to them is like closing off the options that the United States has to not lose its place in history, as a nation that welcomes migrants. From the effort of current generations to embrace immigration emanates the hope that future generations will continue this historic commitment of not permitting the country to collapse for lack of its great essence: new immigrants.
These are the same immigrants who contribute to the economy, education, policy, art, culture, gastronomy, sports, and many other areas. The same immigrants we should accept and celebrate, not demonize and attack. Extending TPS to people from countries who need it, and legalizing the millions of undocumented people among us is a way of honoring their contributions.
Upon announcing the beginning of Immigrant Heritage Month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the following:
“I am humbled to follow in the footsteps of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was born in Czechoslovakia and became the first woman to serve as Secretary of State, and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who was born in Germany and played a key role in shaping U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War. Naturalized Americans work in every single bureau of the Department, helping advance the most pressing foreign policy priorities and adding diversity of perspective and deep intellectual nuance to all our efforts. Their contributions and accomplishments are a reminder that our immigrant heritage is our strength and that immigrants help make U.S. diplomacy stronger, smarter, and more innovative.”
Upon proclaiming June 2023 as Immigrant Heritage Month, President Joe Biden enumerated some of their contributions:
“Today, one third of our doctors and nearly three quarters of our farmworkers are immigrants, and so many more are essential workers, first responders, and military service members. Immigrants own approximately one in five businesses, create millions of jobs, pay hundreds of millions in taxes, and spend even more on American goods. Almost half of all Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants or their kids. Immigrants help strengthen our diplomatic and people-to-people ties around the world. It’s simple: immigrants keep our Nation strong and our economy growing.”
To read the Spanish version of this column click here.