Enough of Using Immigrants in Political Games

Enough of Using Immigrants in Political Games

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By Maribel Hastings and David Torres | America’s Voice

Now that a group of Republican and Democratic senators are weighing up undermining asylum laws, as planned by Donald Trump, in exchange for Republican support for funds requested by President Joe Biden for Ukraine, it is once again apparent that for many politicians, immigrants are the weakest link they can throw away when the going gets tough.

It is a kind of recurrent political fear, on the one hand, and a worn-out formula of “negotiation” with the rival, on the other, in which the immigration issue is clearly not essential for them, but when it comes to shoring up a pro-immigrant image that serves to generate sympathy among vulnerable groups in society.

Because even if, in the end, reason prevails and the press reports do not materialize, the mere fact that a group of Democrats collaborate with Republicans to promote measures that they criticized when Trump implemented them does not contribute to improving that image among a sector of the Hispanic electorate that has been frustrated for decades by the handling of this issue and by many unfulfilled promises. Without going any further, an example of this is the tension that has been generated among migrants who have been waiting for years for a solution to their immigration status after recent asylum seekers have been privileged with work permits and other opportunities. It was obvious that something like this was going to happen, knowing that the lives of millions already in the country have been gambled with, contributing in many ways to the economic strength of the United States. Also, their lives were at risk during the worst pandemic the country and the world have ever suffered.

It would sadly relive what has happened in previous Democratic administrations, Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s, to name two, where immigrants paid dearly for decisions to appease Republicans in exchange for nothing. In Clinton’s case, even authorized residents got shafted. But we don’t want to get sidetracked.

Some of the proposals on the budget negotiating table are part of Trump’s nefarious and long list of immigration initiatives, including tightening the credible fear requirement, making it more challenging to apply for and obtain asylum. Establish the Safe Third Country rule; limit the use of humanitarian permits or parole, especially for Latin American countries, which has been widely used by Biden. Reimplement Quédate en México. And require that the construction of the border wall be resumed.

If you notice, these are Republican proposals, and the Democrats do not seem to have pushed for any benefits for the already established undocumented. The press reported that even for Dreamers, there would be no relief. And that chapter is ironic since the 800,000 or so Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients have been a kind of pilot test of the political ups and downs of the nation that this group recognizes as their only home but have always been adrift, negotiation after negotiation, without the legal recognition they already deserve. In any case, they have been kept in the permanent anxiety of being expelled from the home they have built with dreams, work, study, and hopes.

Another of the many ironies of this situation is that these are policies that Trump promoted, which proved to be a disaster by worsening the pressure on the border without adding damage at the humanitarian level.

Nevertheless, as the electoral winds blow, the Democrats are making the same mistake as always: giving in to Republican pressure at the expense of immigrants and getting nothing for that essential segment of the population. Because in this case, yes, they will fund Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion, but for the immigrants, there is nothing.

Doing the Republicans’ dirty work will not bring the Democrats either the support of those Republicans or Republican voters. It will only prove once again that, under pressure, immigrants are “disposable” for them. This time, they need to put the humanitarian aspect that urgently cries out for a solution first, for these are millions of human lives that have done nothing but choose a better way of life like millions of others in the past. Will they remember the motto we have symbolically tattooed on our foreheads in their negotiations: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free”?

Unfortunately, if these reports materialize, we will continue without breaking the vicious circle in immigration.

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