Sunday, December 4, 2022

Abbott and DeSantis compete to demonstrate who is more anti-immigrant

The competition to show who is the most anti-immigrant Republican governor in the United States is underway. And it’s not hard to see that, between Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, the primary inspiration of their measures against thousands of human beings who opt for the United States as a country of safety is winning the favor of the most extreme among the Republican base, with an eye toward the presidential nomination in 2024.

The political panorama in the runup to the November 8 midterm elections is both simple and complex, with Abbott and DeSantis running for reelection, but also having very concrete plans regarding the 2024 presidential race.

Simple, because Republicans like DeSantis and Abbott stop at nothing when it comes to their political ambitions, whether it be trampling on the human dignity of people seeking asylum, sending them to Democratic cities as a “lesson,” they say, due to what is happening on the southern border—which is a phenomenon that has occurred at the most transited border line in the world even before these governors’ very existence.

Complex, because with their actions are defining not only the future of their states, but of this nation that already knows what it’s like under a regime like Donald Trump’s, with openly xenophobic and anti-immigrant public policies, then becoming a destablizing element in the U.S. democracy, after roundly losing the White House in 2020 and not accepting it.

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But while DeSantis and Abbott fight to become Trump’s successor among the most recalcitrant segment of the Republican base, the ex-president also threatens a second act in the quest for the presidential nomination. And like the first time, his preferred scapegoat continues to be the immigrants.

At a rally in Warren, Michigan on Saturday, Trump declared it’s vital for Congress to pass to Republican hands in order to “stop the invasion on our southern border.” He added that if Democrats continue to control Congress, the situation will “worsen” because “they want to ram through mass amnesty and give illegal aliens welfare, free health care, and the right to vote.”

In fact, this extreme right Republican seems to enjoy being identified with the worst of the Trumpista movement, which may have turned out to be an electoral success in political terms, but also represented an historic setback that has kept U.S. society anchored, yet again, to issues it was thought to have overcome.

Racism and anti-immigrant sentiment continue to be on the menu of options for U.S. social behavior today: topics that are now even part of surveys from the most prestigious firms and universities of the country. Basically, one’s level of racism is still being measured in today’s United States. Incredible.

This racism and extremism, condoned and promoted by Republican leaders—whether directly or by not denouncing it—continues to claim lives. For example, last week in Texas, two white brothers shot a group of migrants who were drinking water by the side of the road, killing one of them and wounding a woman. One of the aggressors was warden of a migrant detention center in that state.

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That is the context in which both the strategies and the campaigns for November’s midterm elections developed, the results of which will be a prelude to what this country will have to live through in the coming years: whether it continues to place its bets on cultural diversity and tolerance, or being a place where even freedoms are limited, as a function of public policies of exclusion and barbarism.

In recent months it turns out that the migration issue has been displaced by issues like the economy, inflation, and the pandemic, among many other priorities that need attention in order to advance. But if we think about it a little, immigration has not lost currency in the political debate, especially when it’s about blaming it for all the ills that plague the country (of course, from the Republican and anti-immigrant perspective, as has been shown by DeSantis and Abbott).

In his recent debate with Democrat Beto O’Rourke, Abbott promised to continue sending migrants to Democratic cities, while evading two hot topics in his state and the the country: abortion rights and gun control.

And DeSantis, in the middle of the disaster in Florida due to Hurricane “Ian,” continues maligning immigrants, even though many have been victims and others will surely contribute their hard work to the state’s recovery.

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Meanwhile, perhaps the biggest goal of this political block that is still “newsworthy” is to continue manipulating its base with facile, repetitive statements that foment exclusion and division about the immigrant, with no regard for the fact that they come legally to seek asylum. At any rate, the only thing they have succeeded in demonstrating—to the world—is the worst side of this country.

Maribel Hastings es asesora ejecutiva de America’s Voice y David Torres es asesor de medios en español de America’s Voice.

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