It’s not déjà vu. Former president Donald Trump, the indisputable leader of the Republican Party and aspiring 2024 presidential nominee, once again declared his intention to issue an executive order denying automatic U.S. citizenship to children born in the United States to undocumented parents, which is protected by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. He said it in 2015 and in 2018, and he said it again now because immigrants, with or without documents, continue to be his favorite target of attack for political and electoral gain.
They are his central target because immigrants, especially people of color and from poor nations, always find themselves in a vulnerable situation, which is attractive for bullies like the ex-president and those who continue to applaud his anti-immigrant rhetoric. Something that doesn’t happen, of course, when speaking about people with power and money, whom Trump has praised, even if their regimes are known human rights offenders. Do the names Duterte, Putin, Abdulfatah el Sisi, Hun Sen sound familiar?
To tell the truth, this is not at all surprising. We already knew who Trump is and what he brings to the table. But what’s outrageous is that the Republican Party—after the trail of blood that extremism and xenophobia have left and continue to leave in this country—has decided that this same extremism and xenophobia will be their public face, their message, and their campaign strategies.
It seems they have not realized that if these campaigns of hate and racism have shown us anything, it’s that they are not successful in the long run, in that they are diluted by the U.S. national conscience, which is fortunately the majority, and always seems to be on the right side of history—accepting, more than rejecting, to welcome immigrants.
And although at this moment, Trump continues to be the central and dominant figure in this party, the anti-immigrant strategy is not exclusive to him, as he has various “Mini-me’s”; among them the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, who just passed the harshest anti-immigrant law in the United States. The measure will take effect on July 1, but is already generating fear among the people of Florida, and not only among undocumented people, since there are families with mixed migration statuses who could find themselves in trouble for transporting and helping undocumented people. It is affecting diverse industries like agriculture and construction, and currently the automotive industry. It will eventually impact tourism. It even affects non-governmental organizations that assist people who are undocumented.
The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, is another of Trump’s minions who has declared a merciless war against immigrant people, and has used the border as one of his favorite battering rams to attack the administration of the Democratic President, Joe Biden, labeling him ineffective at managing the border.
But his influence is no longer so large, and at any rate he lacks originality even in being racist and anti-immigrant, because, in the event he wanted to seek the Republican nomination, he would be appealing to the vote of another Republican sector, tired of the way in which their party has been vilified because of the most extremist wing of conservatism in the United States. Competing for the same group of voters—xenophobic and anti-immigrant—turns Trump and DeSantis into the charlatans of modern Republican politics.
Even the Republican-majority House of Representatives is plagued by loyalties to Trump, ready to promote his anti-immigrant agenda, as they showed with the approval of the bill H.R. 2, centered on measures of border control and undermining asylum laws. And Trump’s head cheerleader is the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, who has indicated that this body will not consider any measure that may benefit undocumented immigrants.
Because the reality is that Republicans’ full-frontal assault is not only against undocumented people. It’s really against immigration and, at the same time, against the inclusive and compassionate United States that this nation was starting to become, even before the fight for civil rights in the last century. The Title 42 battle also made it clear that people seeking asylum are not welcome, and while Republicans claim to love “legality,” they do not seem to care that there are 11 million people without documents carrying out essential work in this country, without any light at the end of the tunnel that they will achieve regularization.
If anything is evident it’s that the Republicans’ 2024 presidential campaign, without additional political resources that truly transcend history for the common good, are once again lining up their cannons to face their favorite target: immigrants.