The Latest Republican Conspiracy
Republican strategists hope that the shocking images of an ´invasion' of immigrants would awake primitive instincts of fear, and that these xenophobic tendencies would motivate the Republican electorate
We are used to the innumerable lies and frauds of Donald Trump. Including those orchestrated by his lackeys from the nouveau Republican Party who, following a utilitarian philosophy, justify all kinds of immoral behavior. So, it is no surprise that, only six weeks before the national elections, they engineered another of their questionable tactics. This time, including in their schemes desperate immigrants who arrived to the United States escaping hunger and political repression.
The Conspiracy Unmasked
What happened in San Antonio, Texas, clearly illustrates this new tactic. A tactic that is essentially a conspiracy.
Who is one of the leaders of the conspiracy? None other than Ronald DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida and an ardent Trump supporter who has presidential aspirations. At least, that is what Alianza Americas thinks, which has initiated a lawsuit against DeSantis; his Secretary of Transportation, Jared Perdue; and the State of Florida, for what appears to be a Machiavellian conspiracy against immigrants.
What happened? According to the lawsuit filed on behalf of three Venezuelan immigrants who are processing refugee claims, a group of migrants were in the vicinity of an assistance center when two people, who identified themselves as “Perla” and “Emanuel,” gave them $10 coupons so they could eat at McDonald’s. They also offered them jobs, a place to live, and other assistance, as long as they agreed to be flown to another state.
The Venezuelans were then housed and kept isolated in a nearby hotel for five days. Meanwhile, the operators, who allegedly were working for Florida authorities, were trying to convince other immigrants. When they completed a group of about 50 people, the migrants were taken to a plane that flew them to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where they were abandoned to their fate, without food and without water.
Other Republican governors are doing something similar. Exhibit B: Governor Greg Abbott, from Texas. Exhibit C: Governor Doug Ducey, from Arizona.
A Changing Political Scenario
Why are these governors, all Trump loyalists, committed to this initiative, when they know that according to the U.S. Constitution everything related to immigration falls within federal and not state jurisdiction?
To understand these anti-constitutional maneuvers, we must go back to last summer when it seemed that everything was given so that, in the November 8th election, the Republicans would regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. The most optimistic thought that perhaps they could even win one or two seats in the Senate. A political objective of a Republican Party that is determined to continue obstructing the agenda of the Joe Biden Administration.
But in politics, unexpected events sometimes change the electoral equation from one day to the next. Sadly for Republicans, what was expected to happen in November is now in doubt.
So, what changed between July and September that redefined the political mood of the nation? Well, a whole series of events on the political chessboard that tend to improve the Democratic Party electoral chances.
To begin with, there were a number of legislative victories and executive orders that not only helped improve President Biden’s abysmal approval ratings, which had fallen as low as 38% in July and now stand at a modest 42%, but also reduced the perception of a dysfunctional U.S. Congress incapable of passing any substantive legislation.
But, unequivocally, the event with the greatest repercussion was the historic June 24th decision by the U.S. Supreme Court which, with a stroke of the pen, reversed four decades of Roe v. Wade. A more than transcendental ruling that has irritated a large segment of the Democratic electorate and even independents who, as we know, often decide the outcome of elections.
The leadership of the Republican Party has struggled to focus the debate on economic issues, such as the gas price, inflation, and the threat of a more than probable economic recession. A tactic based on surveys that suggest that these are the topics that most concern Americans.
But the extraordinary decision of the Supreme Court changed the discussion and forced the Republican Party, now on the defensive, to try to minimize the debate on abortion. Something that does not seem to have been achieved, considering the reaction of many women’s organizations and progressive coalitions that are on a warpath and promise to make their voices heard in the next election.
Change the Subject
That is why with just weeks to go before the election, and feeling cornered, Republican strategists have attempted to change the subject of the debate.
Why not return to the issue of immigrants? Yes, immigrants. A topic that always awakens passions and, do not forget, that gave so much political revenue to Donald Trump in 2016.
When Trump affirmed that Mexican immigrants are “bringing crime” and are “rapists,” he received the applause or the complicit silence of conservatives, ultra-nationalists and even evangelists, who are essential for any Republican electoral victory.
We know what came next: from the planning board, the strategists went into action. And the Republican governors of Florida, Texas, and Arizona, states that border Mexico, began putting immigrants on buses and planes and sending them to remote cities like Washington, DC, New York City, Martha’s Vineyard, not just to irritate those who support sanctuary cities, but to sensationally catapult immigration to the front page of the news. An old narrative that will undoubtedly mobilize Republican voters, in the same way that abortion motivates Democratic activists.
Fear and the Old Cultural War
The issue of immigration is always in tune with an audience that is looking for scapegoats to try to explain the complex economic and social challenges that we face in a world of profound inequalities. An audience that includes racists, ultra-nationalists, conservatives of all stripes and, of course, members of the Republican Party. That is why it is no coincidence that, in a national survey, 80% of Republicans believed that American culture and identity are threatened, and 44% that all undocumented immigrants should be deported.
Republican strategists hope that the shocking images on the evening news and comments in social media about the ‘invasion’ of immigrants seen getting off buses in the streets of Washington, DC; others arriving quite confused to New York City; and some wandering on Martha’s Vineyard; would awake primitive instincts of fear and that these xenophobic tendencies would end up motivating the Republican electorate to vote in November.
An electoral strategy that demonizes these men, women and young people who come to this country in search of a better future. A cruel, inhumane strategy, with a lot of immorality, that defines what Donald Trump’s Republican party has become in this troubled first part of the XXIst century.
Co-editor of HISPANIC LA, and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Rio Hondo College, Whittier, CA.