By Pablo Alvarado
The former president and leading Republican presidential candidate has gone full Hitler on immigration, telling his followers that foreigners from Latin America, Africa and Asia are “poisoning the blood of our country” — and nobody among the Democrats is fighting back.
Instead they are frantically negotiating in Washington for a deal to sell out immigrants, refugees, and people of color in return for funding wars in Ukraine, Israel, and possibly Taiwan. The contours of this new grand bargain are expected to slam the border gates against those seeking asylum and further restrict legal immigration, pushing the country closer to the retrograde vision Donald Trump laid out in 2016, or what Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal has said would mark a return to the racial quota laws of the 1920s.
If President Biden won’t fight back against this, if he can’t summon the members of his own party and diverse electoral base to stand firm upon our bedrock democratic and humanitarian principles, then he should give up and go away.
Seriously. Retire right now. Let someone else run in 2024. If Biden can’t defend America against Trumpism, he surely won’t be able to defend against Trump’s campaign attacks. He will still be mocked for being “soft on immigration,” especially if he concedes. If all we get for electing Biden instead of the fascist is an even more dysfunctional and criminalizing immigration system, ever more reasons for Republicans in the House and Senate’s Klan Kaucus to brag about Making America White Again, ever more flipflopping on those “Day One” promises to build a more just country that respects immigrants and honors our once deeply held Constitutional and humanitarian values, then it’s only fair to ask: What is Biden even doing, and what are we doing defending him?
As the G.O.P. continues its slide into full-on fascism, its goals for immigration action keeps getting more dangerously insane. First it was a wall and more boots at the border. Now it is repudiating our global commitments on asylum and eliminating the president’s power of humanitarian parole. The political landscape and terms of debate keep shifting, while the brutal extremism on Trump’s horizon keeps coming closer: prison camps, unprecedented mass deportations, threats of genocidal violence.
The bastions of democracy are tut-tutting, or looking away. The New York Times briefly mentioned Trump’s blood-poisoning remarks on Sunday in Nevada toward the bottom of an article that focused on other subjects. Other, more responsible news outlets gave the story , but the general reaction in Washington and beyond was the usual mild clucking and cooing. The bull is charging, but the barnyard is quiet.
The drumbeat of American Nazism has become background noise. The steady rise of violent white grievance from Charlottesville to Buffalo to El Paso and beyond has been terrifying to a large segment of our population. Working people— survivors of nativist violence, first-generation immigrant families, people of color everywhere — we hear the sirens and alarms. But to the elites in the political and media class, to elected officials at the highest levels of government, what once was ridiculous and then became menacing is now routine. But for those of us who suffer the consequences, what comes next will be anything but routine.
For one party, white nationalist anti-immigrant extremism is no longer extreme. For the other party — and for people of decency — the correct response is to not to cower and capitulate. It is to speak out and stand up. Summon the courage of immigrants. We are scared too, but we press on.
When the former president and his mob tried sacking the Capitol, they justified their violence as a defense against immigrants. They are coming again. They are bullying their way into government again.
And we’re letting it happen. Even former defenders of immigrants and supporters of rational reform, like Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, can’t be bothered to even mildly criticize speeches straight out of “Mein Kampf.”
“I could care less what language people use,” he told “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Historians will care. Our children will care. There will a lot to wring our hands about in this country after it’s too late.
Why doesn’t President Biden seem to care?