In a recent article for Latino Rebels, Pablo Manriquez talked to Democrats on Capitol Hill about immigration. In working on the story he gathered quotes from several of them relating to how immigrants can help the economy and slow down inflation. With extremist hyperbole and blatant xenophobia becoming politically mainstream, it’s worth noting that Democrats aren’t just posturing. Not only do most conservative think tanks and academics provide the proof they’re citing, but even Ronald Reagan and many other Republicans agreed with the economics too.
I mention conservative heroes being pro-immigrant because this is naturally a topic Republicans love to jump on. Since 9/11, conservatives have taken on an anti-immigrant approach using more subtle language, like “securing the border”, which resulted in armed vigilantes roaming the U.S. Southern border in an attempt to capture (and sometimes kill) “illegal” immigrants. But it was the election of Barack Obama and the rise of the Tea Party that made white nationalist and racist anti-immigrant talking points mainstream again.
The Obama era exposed a level of hate many thought no longer existed in the United States. It gave them a view into the prevalence of hate for non-white groups that continues unfettered today. White voters, who the media claimed suffered from economic anxiety, voted for Republicans who ran for office using language that gradually grew more extreme over the last decade. Slowly, the United States graduated to a nation divided along racial lines largely due to conservative-led culture wars over trivial issues and ideas that lead to a more equitable society.
Talk of disease, invasion, and “crisis” at the border are regular occurrences in the modern-day news cycle. Language once relegated to the most hateful among us while hiding under a robe is now regularly found and heard in every major media outlet. No disguises. No deference. Just normalized hate speech that comes as a result of the incrementalism that defines U.S. society at large. Gradually we’ve normalized the ruthless treatment of non-white people seeking refuge just as we’ve normalized the merciless treatment of Black people within our own borders.
Republicans and their conservative base have adopted the unfounded ideas that were born out of the abhorrent motivations of white supremacy. Words and phrases like nativism, traditional values, and “America first” were made popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when more than 20 million immigrants arrived and helped bolster the industrial revolution. The xenophobia of the time has only been matched by the modern era. Between the internet and non-stop content under the guise of news, the hate speech of old is more popular than ever.
Take this text for example:
“The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is a movement devoting itself to the needed task of developing a genuine spirit of American patriotism. Klansmen are to be examples of pure patriotism. They are to organize the patriotic sentiment of native-born white, Protestant Americans for the defense of distinctively American institutions. Klansmen are dedicated to the principle that America shall be made American through the promulgation of American doctrines, the dissemination of American ideals, the creation of wholesome American sentiment, the preservation of American institutions.”— The Klansman’s Manual, 1925
Now, replace Klansman with Republican and it essentially sounds like every conservative that parrots what they hear from media personalities and extremist politicians. It’s undeniable and creepy. Xenophobic language has become so mainstream that it permeates all aspects of society in the US. The repetitiveness of anti-immigrant language continues to lead us on a path that allows for the for-profit inhumane treatment of asylum-seekers and immigrant families.
Finding the Truth
In 2018, I wrote a series of articles titled, “The Truth About Immigration”. It was a five essay project that started on Medium and was later picked up by Latino Rebels. In each article, I covered a different topic. From lies about immigrants on government assistance and facts about seeking asylum to discussing the people themselves and the falsified links between immigrants and crime. The most important article as it relates to this one focused on the economics of migration to the United States.
Yes, I’ve covered this before. Surprised?
What makes this article different is that we’re talking about the facts of what Democrats said instead of the lies perpetuated by Republicans and the far-right. It’s also important to remain focused on these topics since extremists have repeatedly used the same lies and alarmist rhetoric for decades. There once was a time when it was the Ku Klux Klan labeling everything regarding equality and civil rights as communism. The messaging of both hate groups and political extremists is no different. Not much has changed in the realm of hate speech.
Social media is awash with untruths of diseased immigrants at the border invading the United States as if they were armed troops from a foreign country armed with biological weapons. I would say it’s uncanny because under normal circumstances it would be. But, since we live in a society lacking critical thinking skills, it’s sadly normal. All it takes is a traitor like Ted Cruz to echo century-old Klan talking points and all of a sudden white conservatives are pointing to him saying, “see? even a Latino doesn’t want them here!”
As if Cruz is representative of anything other than white supremacy.
Let me be clear, I’m not absolving Democrats of using immigration as a key voting issue and failing to deliver. Many in the immigrant community have become aware of Democrat strategies that tout immigration reform on the campaign trail only to make it the first thing they are willing to compromise on or sacrifice altogether. However, the recent commentary by several Democrats deserves more attention. Particularly, because they’re right and conservatives know it.
The general consensus among Democrats revolves around unregulated labor and the informal economy relating to the 6.5 million immigrants the Congressional Budget Office estimates will receive work authorization and protection from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). An additional 3 million immigrants will be granted permanent residency helping alleviate the current green card backlog. Corporations are also supporting these measures in an effort to stave off the current labor squeeze which they also argue is driving up costs for everyday people.
While the statements made by Democrats ring true, it’s also worth noting that big media have allowed organizations that are known for their blatant xenophobia and hate speech to chime in on the conversation. Groups such as The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA have been given platforms. All three were created by John Tanton — a white nationalist who argued a “European American majority” was required to maintain “American culture.”
To date, the above-mentioned groups are the only ones cited by journalists who are trying to appear neutral while discussing immigration. That is, giving “both sides” a seat at the table when one side is driven by white nationalism. In 2017, Alex Nowasteh, an Immigration Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute said of CIS executive director Mark Krikorian, “Oh, I’m convinced that he is wrong about all the facts and issues. They’re wrong about the impact of immigrants on the U.S. economy and on U.S. society.”
Aside from the previously mentioned organizations, individual party actors on the right have expressed disdain for immigrants. From Greg Abbot to Ron DeSantis to Ted Cruz, Republicans continue shifting to the right on immigration as part of yet another culture war. Nothing they say about migrants is based on actual data but on coded hate speech directed at immigrants of color. All subtlety has been lost. They don’t care how egregious their words are.
Let’s face it, the core of the Republican base is white people. Both men and women. We can’t reach people when everything is related to racism. From immigration to civil rights, right-wing politicians play on what has been termed “white anxiety” to appeal to white voters. They’re using similar tactics to drive Spanish language disinformation on social media that is going unchecked by each respective platform. Republicans are shameless in invoking racism into everything.
They have their base thinking the goal of those they disagree with, whether Conservative or Liberal, is out to eliminate white people. To somehow contribute to their extinction. As if that’s even a thing. Conservatives will be the first to say “race is a construct, the media and libtards use it to divide us!” while in the same breath arguing that their “race” is being threatened through various imagined scenarios.
As reports indicate over 80% of Trump supporters disagree with Biden’s policies on immigration, I ask: what exactly is it they disapprove of? Biden hasn’t done anything about immigration except ensure the continuation of many of Trump’s policies. This, to me, suggests rather clearly that conservative ideas about reality are being driven by people pushing propaganda suggesting anyone is trying to replace white people. They are being duped.
It’s interesting to watch the majority population, with all the power and privilege, claim to be oppressed in a wildly fictional tale of white genocide. An idea that sounds like a rejected Twilight Zone episode. I hate to say it but, in that sense, it’s pretty comical.
Walker, C. E. (2011). “We’re losing our country”: Barack Obama, Race & the Tea Party. Daedalus, 140(1), 125–130. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25790447
Worsnop, R. L. (1965). Extremist movements in race and politics. Editorial research reports 1965 (Vol. I). http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre1965033100