Both sides of the aisle are antagonizing migrants as the 2024 election looms

Following criticism of his cruel and outlandish rhetoric surrounding migrants, Donald Trump doubled down on his comments. Trump — who recently claimed that documented and undocumented immigrants from South America, Asia and Africa were “poisoning the blood” of the United States — doubled down on his comments at a campaign rally in Waterloo, Iowa on Tuesday. 

“I never read ‘Mein Kampf,’” Trump said, referring to the infamous manifesto authored by Adolf Hitler before his rise to genocidal power. The former president then maintained that migrants were “destroying the blood of our country, they’re destroying the fabric of our country” to a crowd of more than 1,000 supporters. 

Critics have charged him with interpolating the language of the book, which explicitly attributes the collapse of mighty empires to the absence of “pure blood.” 

“In this world, everything that is not of sound racial stock is like chaff,” the future dictator wrote. “Every historical event in the world is nothing more nor less than a manifestation of the instinct of racial self-preservation, whether for weal or woe.” 

Hitler also cited the United States as an example of his theory and believed that the “American Continent and will remain master of it as long as that element does not fall a victim to the habit of adulterating its blood.” 

While many were outraged by Trump’s comments, powerful political supporters like Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) defended his stance.

“You just framed your question implicitly assuming that Donald Trump is talking about Adolf Hitler. It’s absurd,” the one-time “Never Trumper” responded when asked about Trump’s remarks. “It is obvious that he was talking about the very clear fact that the blood of Americans is being poisoned by a drug epidemic,” he added, referring to the ongoing opioid overdose crisis in the country.  

But such inciting pronouncements come at a time of record migration. The past several years have seen millions of border encounters by U.S. Customs and Border Protection after a decade and a half of decline — much of which has been credited to political instability, climate change and economic decline across the Global South. 

Yet instead of responding to the countless numbers of migrants (many of whom are seeking the internationally protected right of asylum) with grace and compassion, both sides of the aisle have doubled down on draconian methods of management. 

In Texas, for example, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a new, controversial bill on Monday that would allow state law enforcement at every level to crack down on migrants crossing the border. The bill, which essentially permits police officers to perform the duties of border patrol, could result in racial profiling and the arrest of legal migrants. 

But it’s not just red states that are seeking new innovations in punitive immigration administration. In Chicago, self-described progressives like Mayor Brandon Johnson have been unable to meet the basic needs of migrants who have arrived in the Windy City. In an effort to house the influx, Johnson’s administration has failed to provide proper housing and has resorted to using tents to provide (inadequate) shelter for the 20,000 immigrants who have arrived since 2022. This includes almost building a campsite on a former truck parking lot in the Brighton Park neighborhood which contained arsenic and mercury. 

But some of the most alarming policies by Democrats have come at the highest level. President Joe Biden, who ran on an immigration platform that opposed family separation, has been in discussion with Senate Democrats to introduce “mandatory detention” of migrants, including families with children. This pivot is an effort by Biden to broker a deal with Republicans in exchange for the passage of a $100 billion military and economic aid package for Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine. 

“Immigration detention is rife with sexual, physical, and verbal abuse, punitive use of solitary confinement, denials of basic necessities, and medical neglect even resulting in death,” the advocacy group Human Rights First said in response to Biden’s potential backsliding. 

“Proponents of mandatory detention promote it as a solution to the non-existent problem of individuals failing to appear for their Immigration Court hearings, a pernicious lie promoted by President Trump.” 

It appears that heading into the 2024 presidential election, the dignity and safety of vulnerable migrants will become just another political football. And there appears little political will to treat it as anything else. 

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Jamie Larson