President Trump’s reaction to the 6,000 people heading to the U.S.-Mexico border highlights the racial bias influencing his politics.
The midterm elections are only a few days away, and people have wondered if an October surprise, a crazy political happening in the last few days of an election cycle, is even possible in 2018. Our new political reality normalizes things that would have been absurd only three years ago, but this week proved that the stakes can always be raised and that bad situations can always get worse. I am referring to the United States’ ever-changing border policy that comes amid the news that a migrant caravan from Central America is moving through Mexico with an intent to enter into the United States.
There has been much speculation about the nature of the caravan from the political right. Vice President Mike Pence is confused as to how there are not any “Middle Easterners” in the caravan from Honduras, whereas Senator Ted Cruz has insinuated that his opponent, Beto O’Rourke, might be helping fund the caravan and many a Fox News analyst has claimed that the caravan is full of criminals.
This small sample of conservative intellectualism sounds absurd, and that’s because it is; multiple news outlets have reported that the caravan is mostly comprised of unarmed women and children who are seeking asylum. However, when the caravan gets here, it will pose a logistical problem. The reported 6,000 crossing the border at one time between the two larger caravans will slow down the crossing process. The problem is that President Trump’s reaction could push the United States into a catastrophe unseen in the modern era.
The United States immigration system is flawed. That is a fact, and no one’s political opinions can change that. Illegal immigration keeps us from having a good record of who is in our country, and a slow naturalization process prevents many families in need from becoming American citizens in a timely manner.
However, the Republican Party now losing its collective mind after they refused to compromise with President Obama on immigration reform is pathetic and disingenuous. Outside of taking steps to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA) and the creation of the Muslim ban, which now exists in a subdued form thanks to three federal court rulings, Trump’s immigration policies have not lived up to his campaign rhetoric. That looks like it is about to change.
Due to the immigrant caravan making it onto “Fox and Friends” this week, our Commander and Chief ignited a political battle against all things constitutional, civil and moral. In the course of a week, Trump has announced that 5,200 troops were moving towards the border with Mexico, claimed that the 14th Amendment (the post-Civil War one giving formerly enslaved people citizenship) needs changing to make it harder for immigrants’ children to gain citizenship and by the end of the week claimed he would send 15,000 troops to the border. Those actions would push U.S.-Mexican relations to the brink, but what Trump suggested next would amount to crimes against humanity.
On Thursday, Trump told troops at the border to “consider it a rifle” when people on the other side of the border throw rocks at them. He eventually walked back this call for a massacre, but what he said next should put the world on alert.
For years the United States has employed a system known as “catch and release,” which allowed those immigrants who posed little or no threat to be released into the community to await trial rather than be held in a detention facility. In a moment captured by many news agencies outside the White House, Trump called for an end to such policies. He claimed that the United States would, if necessary, make tent cities along the border. If this sounds familiar, then you’ve been paying attention.
In the 1990s, Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona Joe Arpaio built what amounted to a concentration camp, which he called “Tent City,” on the Mexican border with Arizona. Yes, that is the same sheriff that Trump pardoned in 2017, and it looks like Trump is going to try and make Arpaio’s now condemned policy in Arizona the national one.
At first it looked like the escalation of Trump’s immigration rhetoric in the last week was just a build-up for the midterms, and for him, it likely is. However, for those like White House Advisor Stephen Miller, former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and the kinds of neo-nazi white nationalist garbage who praises them, this means much more than electoral victory. For them, this is a racial victory.
To defend their ideal way of life, xenophobic Republicans might end up end pushing the president into committing atrocities. If so, it might be up to the international community to intervene in one of our situations, marking a watershed for the status of the United States as a world leader.