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Trump vs. Biden, a rematch with serious consequences

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

This Super Tuesday put Donald Trump steps away from the official Republican presidential nomination although, for all practical intents, we know that he is already the chosen one, lest larger forces prevent it.

Which brings me to once again make it clear that none of this is normal. For the second time, Trump will compete – and who knows if he will win the presidency. A man who faces 91 charges emanating from four cases against him; who led a revolt on January 6, 2021 to try to steal the 2020 election; who has said that he wants to be a “dictator” and persecute his political “enemies”; who promotes mass deportations and migrant detention camps; and who uses racism and prejudice to paint all immigrants as criminals, based on the actions of a few.

And in this sort of parallel universe in which we find ourselves, none of those matters disqualify him in the eyes of his hypnotized MAGA base, or the fearful Republican leaders who continue to follow the orders of this inscrutable leader of the Republican Party-turned-cult at the altar of Trump.

Republican leaders in Congress blocked aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, arguing that harsh migration measures to control the border were necessary, and when they finally got Democrats to fold and give them what they demanded at the price of undermining asylum laws, they changed their mind because Trump doesn’t want to solve the problem, he wants to exploit it in his presidential campaign.

And boy, has he used it. Last Thursday at the border he used the vile murder of a nursing student Laiken Riley in Georgia, for which an undocumented Venezuelan is held responsible, to paint all immigrants with the same criminal brush. The perpetrator deserves the worst possible punishment for his deplorable actions, but you can’t judge an entire community by the acts of a few. That’s like blaming all white people for the violent crimes committed by some white men. Various studies conclude that immigrants do not commit more crimes than those born here.

But for Trump it’s not about offering facts but sowing fear and exploiting the prejudice that he has converted into a powerful electoral weapon, to the point of winning the 2016 election with a playbook of portraying immigrants as criminals. The other night, after sweeping the primaries, he declared that “open borders are destroying our country.”

We know the bloody turn that this topic will take in the ensuing presidential campaign that will, once again, elevate and normalize white supremacists conspiracy theories because, after all, they are wielded by an ex-president who wants to return to be president again, with the help of his Republican leaders, an extremist base, and other electoral sectors that, for some reason, support or are considering supporting a figure like Trump.

What’s worrisome is the Democrats’ response, because they have ceded to Republican pressure. They talk about the migration language in the Ukraine aid package as if it were something positive and beneficial for the immigrant community and people seeking asylum.

Contrary to 2020, when Biden condemned the migration policies of former president Trump and defended immigration reform with a path to legalization, now the crisis at the border and in Democratic cities who are hosting thousands of refugees have placed him up against the wall, and the simplest way out is to compete with Trump to see who is tougher on immigration.

The eventual Biden-Trump matchup offers two very different visions of what the United States is and aspires to be. Trump offers an apocalyptic vision tinged with prejudice, vengeance, and chaos. Biden claims to aspire to becoming an inclusive, equitable, and just society. In his vision, immigrants should not be sacrificial lambs for political ends.

The original Spanish version is here.