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.
Faithful to his style, and as the main spokesperson for demagoguery in the Republican Party, former President Donald Trump said in a rally in Michigan this past weekend that the elimination of Title 42 would result in the U.S. “invasion” of between “10 and 12 million” undocumented immigrants.
His exaggeration, of course, is the electoral energy his faithful followers need to once again feel that they cannot only applaud a lie, but consolidate a false campaign that brings their hollow leader close to power once again.
“We’re being invaded by millions and millions of people,” affirmed Trump. “We will be deluged by illegal immigration.”
Scheduled for May 23, the end of a policy implemented by Trump to keep asylum seekers from doing so in the United States, using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse, is already generating the expected response from Republicans, who see an opening to exploit, once again, the issue of migration, with political-partisan ends in a midterm election year. This despite the fact that even if this worked well during the Trump era, it ultimately did not serve them to turn immigrants into scapegoats four years later, when they failed tremendously—losing the White House—due to a majority of voters being fed up with his xenophobic and anti-immigrant profile.
But add to the Republicans some moderate and conservative Democrats who face close reelections in November and, like always, the easiest way out is to evoke an “out of control” border.
In the first place, the idea that between 10 and 12 million undocumented immigrants would “invade” the United States due to the ending of Title 42 is a fallacy. If we’re using statistics, since it was first implemented two years ago, the policy has removed approximately 1.7 million undocumented people who had intended to request asylum. And let us emphasize that—”intended”—what we’re really talking about is exercising a right, whether or not the answer becomes “no.” We repeat, not everyone obtains asylum like Trump and his minions want it to seem, with this “invasion” that only exists in his head and their most anti-immigrant nightmares.
It’s worth pointing out also that, obviously, after two years of keeping people from legally seeking asylum in the United States, an uptick at the order is to be anticipated, fueled by political and economic crises around the world exacerbated by the pandemic. That is, human displacement is such a logical and most ancient phenomenon that the foolishness of those who want to impede it—with walls, armies, and public policies—is surprising, and will surely shame future generations.
That’s not all. Annually, when winter is over and spring and summer arrive, the number of migrants who try to cross the border always rises, and that includes asylum seekers, not only migrants trying to enter without documents and without being detected, for whatever reason.
We cannot forget that Republicans and some of those moderate and conservative Democrats have had no problem with the fact that Title 42 is not being applied to refugees from Ukraine, for example. It’s only when talking about Latin American, Caribbean, or African immigrants, to mention a few, that they wield the argument about an “invasion.” And that is where we see the hypocrisy of their disagreements and criticism of something they don’t understand very well, such as the migration phenomenon and its roots, while they very consciously apply their racist vision of the world.
Likewise, although the Republicans accuse Biden of fostering “open borders,” the reality is that during this Democratic administration, the majority of intercepted migrants have been deported, removed, or detained.
In fact, 80% of the people who have been detained at the border during the Biden administration have been removed from the country, a figure that automatically refutes the Republican position that there is no control and that an “invasion” is in development. Moreover, almost 60,000 deportations were carried out during Fiscal Year 2021, of the almost 75,000 arrests that occurred this same period, 28% less than in 2020.
The arrests and deportations, on the other hand, have focused on cases of people encountered who have committed serious crimes, which numbered more than 12,000 in 2021, almost 50% more than in 2020, when the figure only approached 6,815.
Title 42 was implemented to prevent the entry of migrants due to the pandemic, but in reality it tried to stop the entry of foreigners legally seeking asylum. Not even public health authorities were sure about the necessity of this public policy. In other words, the Trump administration took advantage of the nexus with public health to restrict asylum seekers, not only to show the type of power they had, but the real racial intentions that emanated from their anti-immigrant politics.
Upon Biden’s arrival, of course, the program continued to be applied. And now, upon announcing its end, the calls for it to remain are being elevated: because it’s simpler to hide behind health policy than to really reform immigration laws. Moreover, the Republican end goal is to decimate the asylum system.
This seesaw of positions that is used to accommodate, politically and in electoral times, shows, with clarity, that what really matters to them is not the human aspect of an issue like migration, but rather the political points that can be won from their supporters. Only that.
The United States, the nation that values being a beacon of hope for the downtrodden, is capable of absorbing and managing an uptick of migrants at its borders. We reiterate, as we said some weeks ago, that today with the Russian invasion in Ukraine, smaller nations have received millions of Ukrainian refugees. And the United States is a world power with the necessary resources and capacity to confront a wave of migrants who arrive at the border seeking asylum. This is what it has said and maintained practically since its founding, and that is why the rest of the world, the devalued and unprotected, risk everything in order to encounter salvation here. If it’s no longer going to be like that, this country also has to clarify things.
Moreover, they talk about the process as if it were a guarantee. That is, not all who come to seek asylum will obtain it. That’s what it’s about. Presenting a credible case that merits the petition’s processing. If not, it is rejected and that’s it. This follows International Law, along with the asylum laws of these United States.
But what is not correct is to continue putting obstacles in the way of the legitimate process of seeking asylum and using it for electoral-partisan gains, due to the incapacity of Congress to reform immigration laws. The easy way out is always demagoguery and using images of a large number of migrants at the border to inject fear and prejudice. What is difficult is to do their job in Congress and make correct decisions, even though they are not the most popular.
As we have previously said here, on migration matters the Republicans’ problems continue to be prejudice, xenophobia, demagoguery, and obstructionism. And the Democrats’ is that they continue to be afraid of the Republicans.
Read the Spanish version of this column here.