OPINION: Toward understanding the current immigration crisis

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By Charlie R. Braxton

Jackson Advocate Guest Writer

According to some right-wing pundits, the United States of America is facing an existential crisis that, if left unchecked, will literally change the face of the U.S. from white to brown. And every Black person in America knows that whenever whites feel their power waning in any form, they take action to maintain their power by any means necessary. This is the basic psychological motivation behind the anti-immigrant sentiment that permeates much of the white community. While I vehemently disagree with it, I can at least understand it. What I can’t understand is why so many Black people, given our historical experiences with white supremacy, would be so quick to jump on the anti-immigration bandwagon and ride it up to the threshold of racism and bigotry. A perfect example of this is a statement made by Candace Owens, who once said that she is “totally comfortable with mass deportation” and that she could “stomach watching mass deportations happen.” Owens, whose grandmother is from the Virgin Islands, further stated that she didn’t know if her position on immigration makes her “broken on the inside,” but she still maintains her anti-immigration position.

Lately, I have been seeing liberal Blacks like New York-based sports commentator Steven A. Smith, who in the past has spoken out against racist anti-immigration, make questionable statements like the one below.   

“53 million dollars in prepaid credit cards are in the process of being distributed to migrant families. Now I understand what people are thinking about, what they are wondering here. Because they are saying to themselves, what’s the problem; if you’re on the left? There’s a big problem if you’re on the right. Naw, it ain’t that simple. We have to understand that we don’t want people eating out of garbage cans. We don’t want people starving. We don’t want children separated from their parents. We don’t want this. We don’t want to be cruel and inhumane, but illegal immigration has become incredibly pervasive since the Biden administration took office. We know that he has capitulated to the extreme left, and even though we wouldn’t say specifically and definitively that the borders are open; every time you turn around, particularly in states like Texas and Arizona and, to a lesser degree, California it is an extreme problem.”

Although totally understandable, I believe his evaluation of the problem to be excessively simplistic and imbued with far-right rhetoric that borders on xenophobic racism. It represents an oversimplification of a multifaceted dilemma that is unlikely to dissipate, irrespective of the occupant in the White House.

Therefore, if we are to truly have a shot at solving the current problem, we must have a deeper understanding of the root cause of our current immigration dilemma facing cities like Chicago, Washington D.C., Denver, and New York.

The myth of the United States being the land of golden opportunity has long been a major part of the lore and lure of this country. This myth has been pushed via the propaganda found in U.S. films, magazines, and television shows where everyone living in the U.S. is depicted as rich and happy. This soft power is what keeps a steady flow of immigrants coming to its shores seeking a better way of life. 

From 1990 to 2000, yearly border encounters by the U.S. Border Patrol averaged about 1 million illegal immigrants seeking access to the U.S. By 2022, Border Patrol encounters with illegals would have increased to 2.2 million. The numbers began to rise in 2018, and were largely driven by people from Central America, who are fleeing a myriad of hardships and dangers such as natural disasters, poverty, political repression, and gang violence. While natural disasters are an act of nature, poverty, political repression, and gang violence certainly are not.

According to National Public Radio reporter, Tim Robbins, the advent of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) played a key role in the increase of undocumented Mexican immigrants into the U.S. Under NAFTA, the Mexican Government phased out subsidies to Mexican corn farmers to encourage foreign investments. Without these critical subsidies, Mexicans could no longer afford to stay in business, which, in turn, drove the price of tortillas up. With the Mexican corn industry a resounding bust, an estimated 2 million farm workers moved from the countryside into the big cities. Eventually, many of them made their way across the border. “The big wave in illegal immigration from Mexico began in the 1980s, says Robbins. “But it picked up strongly after NAFTA. That wasn’t unexpected.”

But it’s not just people from Central America trying to cross the border into the U.S.; there are Jamaicans, Dominicans, Costa Ricans, and Haitians coming across as well. Almost all of them are fleeing poverty, political repression, and gang violence. Ironically, the U.S. has interfered in all four of these aforementioned countries’ political affairs by destabilizing their economy and installing brutal repressive dictators. In this case, these particular immigrants are nothing more than America’s chicken coming home to roost.

As you well know, the Democrats and Republicans are at odds with each other over how to deal with the immigration problem. President Biden insisted that the U.S. would treat immigrants humanely, juxtaposed to his predecessor’s draconian treatment. But as immigration continued to increase, Biden found himself under intense pressure to stop the influx. There has been much to do with establishing a consistent federal immigration policy. President Biden has urged the House and Senate to pass a bill that would give him the power to shut down the border, but the Republicans, at the behest of Donald Trump, who feared a win on immigration would be a plus or Biden, refused to do it, so the influx of immigrants continued.

This sudden massive influx of undocumented workers flooding predominantly Democratic cities like Chicago and New York is a result of Republican Governor Gregg Abbott of Texas sending immigrants from Texas border towns to these cities. The GOP governor plans to overwhelm these cities’ economic resources to the point that the mayors’ supporters would turn against them and the Democratic Party. As the various cities’ financial capacities were stretched to the limit, causing them to cut back on various city services for the cities’ poor citizens, a rift was formed between immigrants and citizens. In cities like Chicago, it further strained the tension between Black and Latinos, locking them in a bitter fight for dwindling resources. So far, Abbott’s seems to be working. I’m amazed the Democrats didn’t see this coming.

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OPINION: Toward understanding the current immigration crisis

By Jackson Advocate News Service
March 18, 2024