Recently, Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) has made several statements that have opened him up to criticism. However, his stances have been evident in various non-white communities who were skeptical of him being in the Senate. Despite this, many liberals and immigrant rights advocates are shocked to hear him entertain xenophobic Republican proposals to return to Trump-era immigration policies under the guise of “border security”.

Let’s be clear, what Republicans seek has nothing to do with securing the border.

Republicans are holding Ukraine and Israeli military aid hostage with racist policy ideas that eliminate some migrant rights. To unblock military aid, Republicans seek to ban class-based parole and extended parole and want to implement a new expulsion authority similar to Title 42 – a policy the White House appears to be entertaining.

In addition, Republicans are pursuing a transit ban, limiting the Biden administration’s parole authority, and requiring mandatory electronic monitoring for anyone not detained (including children). They also seek to return to the Trump-era policy of creating a nationwide expedited removal process reminiscent of the broadened ICE raids that were commonplace under Trump.

Sen. John Fetterman doing what Texas Governor Greg Abbott does in using his wife as a shield to argue they are pro-immigrant despite their stances saying otherwise

As Sen. Fetterman appears ready to entertain Republican bigotry, it’s worth noting that during his campaign he maintained a pro-immigration stance. A position he claims to stand by today as he uses his wife and former dreamer, Gisele Barreto Fetterman as a shield – much like Greg Abbott does when justifying his inhumane policies. Fetterman’s Chief of Staff said the Senator has always had the same policy positions he espouses today.

However, Sen. Fetterman’s campaign website says otherwise

“I support commonsense immigration reforms that will restore our country’s legacy as a nation built by immigrants,’ reads Sen. Fetterman’s campaign website. “In the Senate, I will work to modernize our visa system and asylum programs so that they can’t be exploited by bad actors. I will also fight for a pathway to citizenship for frontline workers, small business owners, and young people who have only known this country as their home.

Yet, Sen. Fetterman appears ready to appease Republican bigotry which attacks asylum rights directly. Republican policies on immigration always seem to border on the unconstitutional and in many cases, they are deemed as such. International law and United States law deem asylum as a human right. The same could be said for the rest of the world. But to Sen. Fetterman, taking away that right appears to be reasonable, despite its illegality.

Remember when Sen. John Fetterman claimed to be a progressive in 2016? Now, he says he isn’t one.

In an interview with NBC News, Fetterman discussed current negotiations with Republicans saying, “It’s a reasonable conversation – until somebody can say there’s an explanation on what we can do when 270,000 people are being encountered on the border, not including the ones, of course, that we don’t know about. To put that in reference, that is essentially the size of Pittsburgh, the second-largest city in Pennsylvania.”

It’s no wonder Republicans have been praising Sen. Fetterman for months. Now, they’re quickly becoming fans of the man who could easily pass as a 1980s Republican. But, even Republicans were more liberal about immigration in the 1980s. Former President Ronald Reagan, with the help of Republicans in Congress, passed legislation granting millions of undocumented immigrants amnesty and a path to citizenship. Today, Sen. Fetterman highlights the bipartisan opposition to those ideas as Republicans celebrate his position.

For a lot of Republicans, it’s been a pleasant surprise,” GOP strategist Christopher Nicholas told NBC News. “Here is a freshman taking some strong stances … I just see someone who’s ‘Well, that’s what I think, and I say what I think.’”

It’s interesting that of all the bills and policy proposals that have been submitted to Congress, Sen. Fetterman, the White House, and several other Democrats chose these xenophobic policy ideas to entertain. The current thought process among white Democrats seems to be that as long as the ideas aren’t as bad as former president Donald Trump’s, they should be able to sell them to voters.

The White House and Senate Democrats have excluded Congressional Hispanic Caucus members from negotiations with Republicans to trade immigrants’ rights for war funding

However, the policies they’re entertaining are identical to Trump-era policies and even commit the United States government to the policies the former president wants to implement should he find himself in the White House again. In other words, Senate Republicans are laying the groundwork for another Trump presidency. The policies Fetterman, Schumer, and many other white Democrats are entertaining will only make Trump’s life easier as president.

Allowing Republicans to use inhumane and xenophobic policy ideas to negotiate war funding sets a scary precedent. The next time, they’ll come after another marginalized group. And then another. And then another. And they’ll keep doing it by tying their racism and bigotry to bills that have nothing to do with anything. Just like they’re doing right now.

That should scare everyone.


The Antagonist Magazine is a project made up of journalists, activists, and writers focused on amplifying the stories of marginalized communities. The goal is to educate the public by sharing narratives focused on independent voices. Born of an online community in 2019, our platform operates independently; free of corporate influence. Please consider supporting the work of dozens of writers from various communities.

Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial injustice.

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