Trump exploits tragedy to push his anti-immigrant agenda

Republican opportunism aiming to inject fear, even using the tragedy of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, is like a bottomless well. And once again, former president Donald Trump is the standard-bearer of a Republican Party controlled and defined by extremist and racist voices.

Without any evidence, Trump declared, according to CNN, “that the ‘same people’ that perpetuate violent attacks on Israel are entering the country through our ‘totally open southern border,’ before speculating about the possibility that some people who crossed the border are planning an ‘attack’ on the United States.”

This is just one more demonstration that Trump and those who share his impertinent geopolitics are not going to miss taking advantage of this moment of human suffering in order to, yet again, make an absurd parallelism to their base—one that only exists in their mind and their perverse politics— speculating about the border and, in general, the issue of immigration.

Trump says as much, and will say even more because he knows that he continues to be the favorite of the Republican base, in this party’s primary to elect the candidate who will face Joe Biden for the country’s presidency in 2024.

In that context, the migration issue is central to the Republican primary candidates; not to offer solutions, but rather to take political advantage and inject fear among those groups who equate immigrants with “criminals” and “terrorists,” as Trump has done ever since he launched his presidential campaign in 2015; as he continues to do now; and as imitated by the other Republican primary candidates and figures from this collective.

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Yes, to once again malign, as forever scapegoats, immigrants who are desperately trying to enter U.S. territory after transiting kilometers and kilometers; leaving their countries of origin behind, where they can’t find anything to move them out of their misery. But that is something neither Trump nor the people who follow him understand, and of that there is certainly palpable evidence every day, staring U.S. society and the world right in the face.

On the other hand, we have to remember that as president, Trump signed an executive order authorizing the controversial Muslim ban that barred U.S. entry to citizens of five Muslim countries. After taking charge in January 2021, Biden repealed this ban, which he thought was discriminatory.

Moreover, we can’t forget that Trump’s calling card has been to equate immigrants with “criminals,” “rapists,” and “terrorists,” appealing to the worst prejudices of some sectors of U.S. society, and knowing which buttons to touch and when to touch them, perfectly.

In that sense, it’s so easy for a big mouth like Trump and his minions to affirm, without evidence, that “terrorist” agents are crossing the border, but it is difficult for them to accept that domestic terrorism in the U.S.—yes, that which applauds conspiracy theories and echoes white supremacist rhetoric of hate and racism—has destroyed the dreams of hundreds of migrants and other minorities by perpetuating mass attacks on schools or supermarkets. The pot calling the kettle black has been practically a constant from Trump and his movement, to try to distract attention from their own atrocities.

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This electoral cycle has not been the exception. Essentially, both Trump and the rest of his merry band are using immigrants as scapegoats, adopting the white supremacist rhetoric of “open borders.” And they seize on any situation to exploit the issue, just as they are doing with the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

This extremist and dehumanizing rhetoric has echoes of Nazism. Just a few days ago Trump, in an interview with The National Pulse, declared the following, “Nobody has any idea where these people are coming from, and we know they come from prisons, we know they come from mental institutions, insane asylums, we know they’re terrorists. Nobody has ever seen anything like we’re witnessing right now. It is a very sad thing for our country. It’s poisoning the blood of our country.”

Yes, just like the Nuremberg Race Laws that were established in 1935, and through which the Nazi regime tried to protect “the blood and honor of the Germans,” under the absurd idea that the German “race” was superior to all others.

Now, Republicans are taking advantage of a tragedy of huge proportions in order to impose their agenda of anti-immigrant measures that do not resolve the fundamental problem of an obsolete migration system, the same one that also does not respond to the humanitarian, economic, or family needs of today. They do it to inject panic into a segment of the population that doesn’t lack for much, so that their anti-immigrant sentiments can flourish. All of this leads us to conclude that they do not want to look for solutions, because doing so would eliminate their favorite weapon in their demographic arsenal: the border and immigrants.

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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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