Political Standoff: The Tug-of-War Over Border Policy
It's time for Democrats to counter the GOP's rhetoric and pivot the narrative toward constructive policy change.
Last weekend, the Department of Homeland Security sent a cease-and-desist letter to the state of Texas regarding Republican’s latest border stunt. And Ken Paxton responded in true Ken Paxton fashion:
As I predicted earlier this week, Greg Abbott is not backing down and has no plans to. In fact, Abbott has stepped it up a notch.
Chris Olivarez, a lieutenant with the Department of Public Safety, posted on social media Wednesday evening that Texas DPS troopers are arresting refugees at the border and charging them with criminal trespassing.
This act is essentially Greg Abbott giving the middle finger to Joe Biden.
When an emergency is declared, it can have a penalty of a year or more in jail. Generally, having a criminal record, especially involving a sentence of a year or more, can impact a person’s eligibility for a US visa.
Republicans are trying to stop all migration to America from countries south of us. That includes both legal and illegal.
I’ve read countless reports, consumed right-wing media accounts, and watched every congressional hearing and city council meeting. The whole “border issue” is complex and has so many layers that it’s hard to understand if you aren’t paying attention or listening to the wrong people.
Since the Republican base is reactionary, they’ve become easy to manipulate around the border issue, and our elected officials know this. Greg Abbott and Republican officials all around the country have used asylum seekers as props to scare their base with great replacement theory rhetoric, all while intentionally making the situation worse.
Listen to what Texas Representative Jasmine Crockett (D) had to say about the GOP’s border shenanigans earlier this week:
Democrats are losing on border messaging, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
It’s an election year, and the border will be a huge topic. The Congressional hearing that Congress held earlier this week had some great moments of Democrats pushing back against GOP lies and obstruction over the border situation. They need to do more of that.
Northern Democrats and even a few Democrats from Texas have jumped on the Republican bandwagon. They don’t understand the border issue, so they are only hurting our cause more—like the fourteen Democrats who joined a Republican resolution condemning Biden on the border. US Senate Candidate Colin Allred was one of the Democrats who joined that resolution.
We must understand we don’t have a “border crisis.” We have a “migration crisis.”
Right now, we face an “unprecedented” level of displaced people from across the Western Hemisphere who want to come to the US. Experts have described “push factors” as primarily driven by poor economic conditions in Central and South America, natural disasters fueled by climate change, and political instability.
Why is this America’s problem?
Most of the migrants showing up on our border come from countries that are economically or politically unstable because of American intervention, driven by Cold War geopolitics or economic interests. America has contributed to long-term instability in most of these countries.
Take Venezuela, for example. The outflow of refugees and migrants from Venezuela is the largest displacement crisis in the world, with almost 7.7 million migrants and refugees as of August 2023. Not all of them headed for America. In fact, most wound up in Columbia.
Historically, the US has had significant economic interests in Venezuela, particularly in oil. We imposed economic sanctions in response to actions by the Venezuelan government it deems anti-democratic. These sanctions have exacerbated the economic crisis.
According to a 2020 report by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the US’s first sectoral sanctions in 2017 (Trump) contributed to Venezuela’s economic crisis. The report also states that sanctions have contributed to declining quality of life.
America (especially Texas) is responsible for the Iron River, which drives migration from Mexico and Central America.
The “Iron River” is the flow of illegal firearms from the United States into Mexico and Central American countries. This phenomenon is significant because it has been linked to increased violence and instability in these regions, which drives migration.
America, particularly states with more permissive gun laws like Texas, is a significant source of guns that end up in the hands of the cartel. Most of these weapons are purchased legally in the US and then smuggled illegally south across the border. These guns fuel gang violence, drug trafficking conflicts, and general lawlessness.
From 2017-2021, 46% of guns recovered from crimes in Mexico were traced back to Texas.
The increased availability of firearms in Mexico and Central America exacerbates violence and insecurity in these countries, undermining governmental authority and contributing to political instability.
Here is a good segment from Vice on American weapons in Mexico:
The violence and insecurity in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador have compelled many individuals and families to flee, seeking safety and stability. Many of them end up at the US border, seeking asylum or hoping to migrate to escape the dangerous conditions in their home countries.
If Republicans want to see a change in the migration issue, the ball is in their court.
As the majority in Congress, Republicans have significant legislative power to enact, amend, or repeal laws. This includes the authority to address issues related to foreign policy, immigration, and gun control.
Congress controls the federal budget, including funding for foreign aid, border security, and immigration services, which can impact conditions in migrant-origin countries and the border infrastructure.
Congress should be addressing the root causes of mass migration, including decisions on sanctions and diplomatic relations. Republicans can advocate for foreign aid and development programs designed to improve economic and political stability in Latin American countries.
The Republican-controlled Congress can enact or amend legislation to curb the illegal flow of firearms to Mexico and Central America.
Instead, they look at pictures like the one below and yell, “Biden border crisis.”
That was migrants waiting in Shelby Park a few weeks ago when Border Patrol was using the park as an overflow area.
It’s images like these that cause Republicans to be reactionary. They claim the border “is open,” as proven by the hundreds of migrants waiting to be processed. But they are waiting to be processed…which is the legal way to ask for asylum.
Under Biden, more immigrants have been deported than any other president in history. According to the Cato Institute, Biden has been harsher on deportations than Trump ever was. But you’ll never hear that under Republican talking points.
Democrats, especially on the national level, need to push back harder against Republican lies regarding the border.
The Biden administration has taken various steps to manage the border situation, focusing on increasing enforcement, expanding legal migration pathways, and addressing root causes of migration. However, Republicans in Congress have hindered the passage of comprehensive immigration reform and budget approvals for border security and immigration system enhancements.
Biden has repeatedly called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Republicans have opposed it.
Republicans have refused to pass some of Biden’s budget requests, including supplemental funding for border security. All while Trump has been telling the GOP not to compromise on the border issue.
Republicans have been controlling the border narrative, and Democrats need to win it back. The quickest path there is to show how the GOP has been lying and blocking funding and reform. Meanwhile, the situation between the federal government and Texas is expected to continue escalating.
We have to be informed and engaged. It’s crucial that we all look beyond the headlines and understand the complexities of the migration crisis. We need to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions (or inactions) on this issue. Consider supporting organizations that provide aid to migrants, engaging in community discussions to spread awareness, and using your vote for candidates who are committed to constructive and humane immigration policies.
This crisis is a test of our collective conscience and humanity. What will happen next? Stay tuned.
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