Immigration: Racism disguised as invasion

Jake Mireles, Contributing Writer

Since the conception of humanity, immigration has been a driving force of progress. Starting with the first human exodus from Africa, mankind has always moved towards greener pastures. In modern-day America, there is a stigma attached to the word immigration that has developed into one of the most volatile and divisive issues in the American political landscape.

America, known as the “Great Melting Pot,” is a nation built on the backs of immigrants, yet immigration has turned into one of the most important issues that politicians incorporate into their campaigns. The battle lines have been drawn and have not moved in years. Most recently, Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) and Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) have been under scrutiny for the mass transport of migrants to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the home of Vice President Kamala Harris and Martha’s Vineyard, a popular summer residence for many notable politicians including former President Barack Obama. According to a New York Times article, many of these migrants were asylum-seekers from Venezuela who were taken in by border agents, processed and released into San Antonio to await their approval proceedings. The legality of these moves is still under question, highlighting a disturbing trend in the conservative movement against immigration. Even Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar opened an investigation into the migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard

The move to transport these migrants across the country and dump them in these “sanctuary cities” without notifying local officials may fall in a gray area with the law, but the fact of the matter is that these governors used migrants as political pawns to push an agenda. According to interviews conducted by the New York Times, they were lured into this situation “under false pretenses with promises of work and a better life.” They were plucked off the street and dumped into unfamiliar locations, left to fend for themselves. This is an inhumane act, one that highlights the disconnect between the politicians who perpetuate the migrant crisis and the people who are legitimately affected by it. These migrants — legal or not — were not treated like human beings. 

Unfortunately, this is not a new development. In fact, the fiery rhetoric used by prominent conservative figures against these migrants has indirectly led to acts of violence against them. During the Trump Administration, the former president’s team consistently made statements characterizing the crisis at the border as an “invasion” while promoting its fortification and policing. According to an article by the Washington Post, found in the manifesto written by the El Paso shooter — who murdered 22 people in a Walmart, purposefully targeting Latinx shoppers — were references and mimics of President Trump’s invasion rhetoric. 

Words have incredible power to incite change, but they also have the ability to inflict violence and pain. The dehumanizing rhetoric commonly used to galvanize the American public against illegal immigrants has tangible and disastrous consequences. When discussing the crisis at America’s southern border, it is acceptable to have a difference in opinion on the solution given there is no one perfect way to solve the issue. However, we cannot draft meaningful legislation to end the crisis if we do not understand that the illegal immigrants crossing the border are human beings with their own life experiences, values, morals and needs. They deserve to be treated fairly, with respect and empathy, regardless of their legal status.