Nativist rhetoric shows its most anti-immigrant side, once again

A demonstration in Italy last Sunday, in which participants made the fascist salute, kicked over a hornet’s nest in that nation when parties of the center-left accused the Giorgia Meloni government of allowing an “apology of Facism.” It happens that the Italian Prime Minister was also active at some point in her life in the extinct Italian Social Movement (MSI), founded by followers of the dictator Benito Mussolini and sponsors of Sunday’s rally which takes place every year to commemorate the 1978 killings of three teenage activists of the MSI, allegedly by left wing militants.

The return of fascism in the 21st century

It’s not surprising, since the presence of neo-fascist groups in diverse European countries, as well as the rise of far right parties, has been extensively documented. In a BBC article, Professor Luciano Cheles, from the University of Grenoble, explains that the proliferation of those parties and groups relates to the increase in immigration to those countries.

“These neo fascist ideas have been introduced through this type of argument, those who say that Italy and other countries cannot allow so many foreigners,” Cheles declared to the BBC.

It’s like the first line of battle that is formed on the anti-immigration front in every destination country, where thousands of human beings are searching for a way out of their economic and social situation, fundamentally. And the most distinctive sign of this reality is that said nations, where ultra-nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment are being exacerbated, are majority-white and developed.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because the United States is debating whether the proliferation of supremacist groups and their rhetoric of hate, towards immigrants precisely, could have fascist inclinations. There are a variety of opinions on the matter. In fact, even the former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, asked, “Why, this far into the twenty-first century, are we once again talking about Fascism?” in her book Fascism: A Warning, in the context of the presidency of Donald Trump.

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But one thing of which there is no doubt is that the racist rhetoric utilized by white supremacists and normalized by right-wing politicians and Republican figures has inspired domestic terrorist attacks that have claimed the lives of Jewish people, Latinos, and African-Americans in diverse parts of the country. That is the reality.

Foto: Elvert Barnes

The manipulation of the immigrants for political purposes

That is, the behavioral traits of those anti-immigrant and supremacist groups align with the characteristics of complete Fascism and even Nazism from the previous century. You can change the terminology if you want, and utilize one that has been birthed with the appearance of Donald Trump on the political scene: “Trumpism.” But the effect is the same as a category of analysis about the reality that we have been forced to live.

And in our case immigration, or more exactly, anti-immigrant sentiment, moves those groups and individuals. The person responsible for the massacre in Walmart in El Paso, Texas in 2019, Patrick Crusius, wrote in a manifesto that “this attack is a response to the HIspanic invasion of Texas.” He killed 23 people and wounded 22, the majority Hispanic. And don’t forget that it was the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, who fomented the use of the term “invasion,” to the point of even declaring it officially. Abbott himself has sent thousands of migrants to cities run by Democrats, in buses and planes.

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In this space we have denounced ad nauseam that what is worrying is that this rhetoric that speaks of an “invasion” on the United States-Mexico border, of “open borders” or disseminating conspiracy theories such as the “great replacement” of Anglo-Saxons with migrants and minorities to monopolize political power, previously it was limited to fringe groups. But now they are spoken from the floor of Congress, at rallies of elected officials and candidates, and even from the presidency itself, as was the case with Donald Trump.

Now as a primary candidate and favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, Trump has intensified that rhetoric, utilizing phrases of Nazism like that immigrants are “poisoning and destroying the blood” of the United States.

For the anti-immigrants, the solution is not to offer a solution

This week the House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee held a hearing regarding Republican efforts to impeach the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas from his position. Not because he has committed “crimes and misdemeanors,” but because they disagree with Biden’s immigration policy.

Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS).

And the process has been tainted by the same nativist rhetoric. The Republicans have used the “invasion” at the southern border and the replacement theory to justify the procedure against Mayorkas.

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But ultimately, the Republican Party is trying to impeach Mayorkas not only for being an immigrant son of immigrants, but because they consider him the perfect scapegoat to rile up the MAGA base, accusing him of leaving the southern border “open” and saying we are being “invaded.”

However, the reality is that they’re only looking to politicize the immigration issue without either offering solutions nor accepting those the Biden administration has offered on matters of border security in the stalled aid package to Ukraine. Because solving the problem would take away Republicans’ favorite electoral battering ram, immigration, and their preferred scapegoats, immigrants.

To read the Spanish version of this column click here.

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Maribel Hastings is an executive advisor for America's Voice and David Torres is a Spanish-language media advisor for America's Voice.

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