Keeping a ragtag caravan of impoverished, would-be immigrants that’s traveling on foot through Central America and is still 1,000 miles off from storming the Southern border of the United States like an invading force is easy.
It’s winning congressional majorities that’s hard.
And it’s Tuesday’s congressional elections and Democrats surging in the polls, not the bedraggled band with a large contingent of women and children, that motivate President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rants.
On Thursday, Trump held a news conference that blended truth and lies in a way meant to terrify voters and galvanize them into casting ballots for his Republican allies en masse. It’s a strategy he has pursued for more than a week, sinking further and further into fearmongering.
“It’s like an invasion,” Trump said, adding that the caravan includes “a lot of young men, strong men, maybe men we don’t want in our country.” Trump also has said the group of immigrants includes “Middle Easterners,” which he seems to think is a synonym for terrorists. And he’s implied that the caravan might be professionals financed by George Soros or some other liberal boogeyman rather than asylum-seekers.
But as much as Trump has demonized these immigrants, they are not the enemy he’s aiming at, even if he has foolishly vowed to send 15,000 armed troops down to the border to aim at them. His target is Democrats.
A misleading TV ad
Democrats want to let everybody in, Trump said. It’s the Democrats’ fault, he said, adding that, “You won’t get a vote from a Democrat” to strengthen the border.
Targeting suburban women voters, Trump on Wednesday released a TV ad featuring Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican immigrant sentenced to death in April after being convicted of killing two California sheriff’s deputies in 2014. The ad shows Bracamontes, who was deported at least twice, bragging about killing cops. However, immigrants aren’t the target of the ad. “Democrats let him into our country,” viewers are told, and, “Democrats let him stay.” “Who else would Democrats let in?” the text reads. Both Republicans and Democrats held the White House during Bracamontes’ multiple arrests and deportations.
The man accused of killing 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday screamed, “All Jews must die!” His social media posts said he was doing it because he believed refugees were killing Americans, and Jews were helping refugees. That’s what happens when we demonize.
President should listen to own rhetoric
The United States has the heart and the soul to take people in, and the right and the need to control how that happens. If we want to rectify this situation for good, we have to help our southern neighbors stabilize their societies, and we have to pass a comprehensive immigration plan that secures our borders while admitting an appropriate flow of new residents. We can do that without aiming 15,000 soldiers at helpless immigrants, without painting a huge swath of needy people as murderers, and without painting an entire political party as enablers of murderers.
When Trump says we are in an incredibly dangerous situation, he’s correct. But he should look in the mirror. It is his rhetoric, not the desperate people walking toward us, that is the danger.