Did you know that “they” are paying their life savings to smugglers, traveling long distances under dangerous and horrific conditions, risking deportation when they reach the US—all because they are so desperate to cast a fraudulent vote?
This is the newest Republican 100% false scare tactic to persuade Americans to vote against their own self-interests. (If you did “know” it, you need better sources of information—pronto!)
One of the most evil and sad continuing stories in this Nation of Immigrants is the relentless Republican effort to scapegoat migrants–who include many refugees fleeing for their lives—in their efforts to frighten voters.
In recent months, this false narrative has overtly taken an even uglier and more dangerous turn as it has morphed into the white supremacist “replacement theory,” asserting such alleged voter fraud is part of the plot to deprive “white America” of its right to keep the country as they believe it should be. Tragically for our nation, it is now being mouthed by what used to be considered “conservative/establishment” Republicans.
This claim that the Democrats have purportedly engineered the entry of swarms of immigrants into the US so they can commit voter fraud is another preposterous variation of the Big Lie–and it is evidence of projecting their thoughts on the Democrats. (Notice that all the actual findings of voter fraud have been traced to Republicans?)
They buttress their fear-mongering by depicting migrants as wanton killers and other hardened criminals. This contention is a canard. In fact, a report by the conservative Cato Institute stated that in Texas, “…the little evidence that does exist shows that illegal immigrants have a crime rate far below that of native-born Americans, but higher than legal immigrants.”
Got that? A ranking of criminal acts—in Texas, no less—places native-born Americans first.
The punitive measures of the Trump administration—the horrors of separating families, some who will never be reunited, and the false promise of a protective wall that Mexico would pay for—are a stain on our country.
The people flocking to our borders are desperate, and no wall will stop them.
If that wasn’t clear enough before, we now have evidence from a portion of the wall that was actually built in California. Trump signed an executive order in 2017 to replace 406 miles of barriers that had been between 6 and 17 feet high with a steel barrier that was 30 feet high—and added 49 miles of new barrier at that height.
The impact? The authors of an article in JAMA Surgery wrote recently that the media had declared the new 30-ft wall “unclimbable.” What actually happened was that deaths and severe injuries increased from people trying to climb that wall.
Reports of migrants suffering injuries or deaths in their efforts to reach the US aren’t new, but the injuries reported were more traumatic, and this is the first documentation directly attributed to a man-made obstacle. In addition to the human toll, these statistics point to millions of dollars in expenses for hospital services.
So the taxpayers who paid to build the wall are now also paying for the care of those who sought to breach it. (It’s worth noting that we taxpayers include immigrants, both legal and illegal, who paid a total of $330.7 billion in federal taxes and $161.7 billion in combined state and local taxes in 2019.)
To what end?
As Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration, said:
“Show me a 50-foot wall, and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder.”
I am not dismissing or minimizing the dangers of drug, arms, and human traffickers; the response to them must obviously be rigorous and unrelenting.
Immigration is a difficult issue at best, complicated by climate change and the social dislocation and other upheavals it creates. But the Republicans’ tirades have made it impossible for our legislators to seek solutions to the legitimate problems that must be addressed.
Our lack of a well-thought-out policy means that in addition to the Dreamers, several hundred thousand kids who have grown up in the US and are legally here under their parents’ renewable green card work visas are in danger of being deported to countries they’ve never known when they become 21. This is both cruel and nutty.
President Biden has sought a humane approach that’s in keeping with our nation’s needs. We know we have a dearth of workers now. There are too few workers for the available jobs. Most of those seeking entry simply want to work and support their families. They aren’t displacing anyone. We should be welcoming them.
The Biden administration has said it’s working to update DACA, the Dreamers provision. But when Homeland Security head Alejandro N. Mayorkas was asked by the House Judiciary Committee recently whether his department would be addressing the plight of young people in danger of deportation because of a green card visa backlog, he responded that responsibility for documented youths would fall to Congress, where there remains what a spokesman called “the imperative to pass immigration reform.”
The Build Back Better bill that passed the House in 2021 had several provisions that would have dealt with green cards, but it failed in the Senate. At this point, although a bipartisan group of senators has been meeting to see what immigration reform measures might reach the 60-vote threshold required for Senate passage, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), a leader in this effort, said there is “zero” chance for passage in this session.
That must not be encouraging news to the President, whose campaign promise was for comprehensive reform and a pathway to citizenship, as surging numbers of people try to gain entry into the US–while the opposition party wraps itself in the white supremacist robes of the replacement theory.
Unless we are Indigenous people, every one of us is just generations away from being an immigrant. Desperate people seeking better lives for their families are not the villains. Politicians who use lies and fear to make us forget our own origins—and theirs—are.
These politicians, lining up either to embrace the replacement theory or refusing to condemn it, must be called to account. There should be no place in the halls of Congress for people who express such blatantly neo-Nazi garbage.
And if they’re incapable of doing anything constructive about this big and very important American issue—insisting solely upon demonizing people to hold on to power—they should be replaced by politicians who are willing not only to condemn this vicious ideology but also to compromise on immigration reform that will move us forward.
That’s my replacement theory.