Biden, Trump, the Migration Crisis, Xenophobia and Border Security

Donald Trump, the former Republican president, stated in Eagle Pass, on the Texas border with Mexico, that “the immigration crisis is an invasion, a war,” making it clear that the issue of border control will be one of the main battlefields of the next presidential election.

This diatribe, by the mere fact of having happened, marks a Republican triumph by forcing Democrats on the defensive on an issue that was already central to Trump’s first successful campaign in 2016, who now repeats the same racist and warmongering script.

Amid mutual recriminations, both Trump and current Democratic President Joe Biden went to different border points in Texas on Thursday. In Eagle Pass, Trump accused the invasion of undocumented immigrants for a wave of crimes committed by them, and in Brownsville, Biden blamed the magnate for derailing a bipartisan bill for border security.

In this bid, it is not surprising that the president of the Lower House – the most powerful figure in the US government after the president and vice president – Republican Mike Johnson, has pointed out that “We are the United States. Mexico will do what we say,” after arguing that Biden does not want to exercise his power and force Mexico to act to stop the migratory flow at the border.

He added that Biden does not need additional laws to control and even close the border. “How do you reduce the flow? The answer is simple: you reinstate Stay in Mexico,” Johnson said. He pointed out that reimplementing that program would reduce the flow by 70 percent, a figure that has no real basis, because American analysts who studied it the last time that measure was in force concluded that it was nowhere near that impact.

Johnson pointed out that he reiterated that proposal to Biden in the White House, but he replied that he could not do it. “I responded that that was not true. He said, ‘Well, Mexico doesn’t want that.’ I insisted, Mr. President, we are the United States, Mexico will do what we say,” he added.

Stay in Mexico was implemented by Trump: asylum seekers in the United States are forced to remain on the Mexican side while their requests are evaluated. Biden suspended it as contrary to US refugee rules and Mexico has declared that it will not accept it again.

Furthermore, Trump, in his speeches, tells how he threatened Mexico with tariffs to force his government to accept Remain in Mexico and to move some 28,000 troops to its southern border.

In his visit to Texas, Biden has been meeting with representatives of the border patrols and immigration services before giving a speech in which he has been conciliatory and has asked Trump to support the law that Republicans and Democrats agreed to increase security on the border.

“The bipartisan agreement on border security would be a victory for the American people,” he said, noting that it would give them the ability to “temporarily close the border,” something that would be activated when the number of illegal crossings exceeded certain thresholds.

Trump did not mince words. He offered an incendiary speech, full of falsehoods and xenophobic and far-right messages, as he usually does. “These are the people who are entering our country, and they come from jails and they come from prisons and they come from mental institutions and they come from asylums and they are terrorists. They are introducing them into our country. And it’s horrible,” Trump said.

Meanwhile, in Texas, federal judge Allen Ezra ordered the state government to suspend a law that grants police authority to detain individuals suspected of being undocumented immigrants, arguing that it faces an invasion along its border and that it has the right to act unilaterally to confront it. But the judge affirmed that this law threatens the fundamental notion that the United States must regulate immigration with a single voice, that is, that it is a federal function.

Republicans are now sticking to a narrative that the problem with the southern border is that Biden has been too deferential to Mexico and is not forcing the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to reimpose measures like Stay in Mexico, as then-President Trump managed to. That message is now repeated in Congress – Johnson’s statements prove this – as well as on the border and at campaign events across the country.

“This is an invasion, Biden (…), a wave of migrant crime,” Trump said in Eagle Pass, with anti-immigrant Governor Greg Abbott at his side, mentioning crimes committed by undocumented immigrants: “This is like a war,” he proclaimed in what is and will be his constant message.

Biden, in his visit to Brownsville – a border crossing that has not been affected by the so-called recent immigration crisis – blamed Trump for derailing a bipartisan border security bill that he promoted with measures to hire another 1,500 border agents and, he highlighted the authority to temporarily close the border, among other initiatives, that sought to solve the crisis at the border.

David Brooks and Jim Cason point out that this Biden initiative was already proof that the Republicans had managed to force the president to give in to their demands to take extreme measures, including border closures to address the alleged immigration crisis, contemplating measures promoted by Trump when he was president.

Obviously the debate is not about how to solve the problem, but how to use it in the electoral theater. The immigrants and their experiences are only secondary parts of the cast in this play.

Original article by Gerardo Villagrán del Corral at
Translated by Schools for Chiapas.

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