Anti-immigrant rhetoric kills

In the months leading up to the Nov. 8 2020 national election, anti-immigrant rhetoric became more and more prominent in the Republican campaign message.

It’s in the Republican Nature

In its most extreme manifestations, it has ceased to be the exclusive dominion of the extremist right-wing fringes of the GOP and gradually become part of the regular political recitation by its candidates, spokespersons, and elected officials. It became mainstream.

It is part of that party’s tendency toward aggression and hostility, which we have seen just this weekend when its leader, former President Trump, threatened his rival Senate Caucus Mitch McConnell by saying that he “has a death wish.” Also characteristic is the fact that one or two Republicans criticized the expression while others just tried to explain or justify Trump’s attack.

Violent rhetoric is today, together with victimization, the most characteristic feature of this group, which feeds the fear that it intends to win the 2024 elections through intimidation and fraud. Because by considering themselves as victims of this fraud, which is non-existent, it makes it lawful for them to react to avoid it, that is, to commit fraud, which is what is coming our way in many states. Especially when this is not about grim marginal characters, armed or not, who demand to see the lists or try to get into the computers that count the votes, etc., but about those in charge of approving the results, that is, secretaries of State or legislators.

But especially virulent are the relentless attacks against immigrants, whether they are undocumented or those who are here legally after seeking asylum, a distinction that to these fanatics means very little.

They don’t mind being a nominal minority

The American public has a positive opinion of the “Dreamers” and supports their legalization. And three out of four are in favor of receiving refugees from countries where they are trying to escape violence and war.

And yet, numerous Republican candidates exacerbate the immigration crisis to rouse their supporters and win their vote. They compete among themselves over who has the most bombastic words, who shows the most fanaticism and intransigence, who “tells it like it is” or “is not afraid of the truth”, which is what they praised about Donald Trump at the beginning of his electoral campaign. in 2016.

Actually, from that moment on, the former president gave up taking his message to the rest of the population and focused on taking his fans to the polls. This has been since then the prevailing trend in his party.

Thus, the governor of Texas Greg Abbott, who is seeking re-election, affirms that his state is the victim of an evil “invasion by the illegals.”

The ‘best’ of the candidates

Arizona’s Blake Masters promotes the Great Replacement conspiracy theory, according to which Democrats bring immigrants into the country to dilute the power of natives. Generally the accusation is extended to include Jews and in general, liberals or whoever thinks differently.

North Carolina’s Ted Budd supports the withholding of federal funds from law enforcement agencies that refuse to cooperate with ICE.

For Alabama’s Katie Britt, immigrants are responsible for the nation’s opioid and fentanyl crisis.

Another likely winner in the Senate race is Adam Laxalt of Nevada, who would make sanctuary cities illegal.

They all support “finishing” the construction of the border wall, which of course has not started.

The Republican attitude against immigrants is anything but spontaneous. It is an important part of an initially electoral but now permanent strategy of the Republicans.

Incendiary Rhetoric

The ideological offensive against immigration as the basis of Republican electoral ideology began in April 2022, with the mailing to Republican politicians of a 60-page document written by Congressman Jim Jordan. The document was leaked to the press. Jordan is the top Republican member of the all-important House Judiciary Committee, and if and when that party wins control of the chamber, he will be its chairman.

The document, says the New York Times, recommends the use of “misleading and provocative” concepts, according to which migrants and refugees are perpetrators of sexual crimes, which President Joe Biden accepts, encourages and hides at the same time.

And we are already aware of the gambit by the Republican governors of Texas, Arizona and Florida to send immigrants to sanctuary states like cattle. It brought them attention, a nod from fans, a rise in social media attention, and support to continue. Although with certain restrictions: Ron DeSantis, the one from Florida, has a maximum budget of 12 million dollars for his little game, and the 50 immigrants he sent to Massachusetts were not Mexican, Salvadoran, or Venezuelan; they were not “illegals” but had voluntarily presented themselves at the border and applied for asylum, and were awaiting court hearings, and finally, they were not from Florida but from Texas…

Consequences and growing danger

Venomous rhetoric has consequences. People are being defined as “illegal” because of the color of their skin, their accent, or their poor English proficiency. This increases racial profiling by law enforcement agencies. There are numerous cases of abuse.

The worst was last week, when a group of immigrants walking in the West Texas desert came under fire, resulting in one death and one injury. One of the two attackers is a former director of a private immigration detention center. The survivors recount that the two – it turns out they are brothers – arrived in a white van where they were looking for a source of drinking water; they insulted them; then one of them got out of the vehicle and fired. He now defends himself by saying that it was against birds and animals.

It is true that the number of asylum requests and illegal crossings on the southern border has grown considerably. But the demonization of families trying to cross through lies and exaggerations only creates new problems.

Rather than incite hatred and violence, it makes sense for Republicans in Congress to stop opposing measures such as opening the country’s gates to skilled workers for vacant jobs in American hotels, restaurants, and countryside and for those who came here as children and today they are Americans in every way except papers.

Those who incite hate cannot claim to be in control of the consequences of their rhetoric. They don’t, and violence against immigrants could expand and escalate as a result, generating real tragedies.

This article was supported in whole or in part by funds provided by the State of California and administered by the California State Library.


  • Founder and co-editor of Latino Los Angeles. Editor Emeritus of La Opinion, former Editor-in-Chief. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a journalist, columnist, blogger, poet, novelist, and short story writer. Was the editorial director of Huffington Post Voces. Editor-in-chief of the weekly Tiempo in Israel. Is the father of three grown children and lives with Celia and with Rosie, Almendra and Yinyit in Los Angeles.

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