“We have given into the Republican narrative in such a way that we’re beginning to sound like them”: A roundtable discussion with Rep. Delia Ramirez, Heba Gowayed, Victor Narro and Carlos Rojas Rodriguez

by Natascha Elena Uhlmann, In These Times

Going into the 2024 election, the GOP’s position on migration is abundantly clear. In June 2023, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stood at a presidential campaign podium emblazoned with the words ​Stop the Invasion” and likened border crossings to home break-ins. On the campaign trail in December 2023, Donald Trump declared immigrants are ​poisoning the blood of our country.” Mere weeks ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lamented the state’s inability to shoot asylum seekers crossing the border because ​the Biden administration would charge us with murder.” These pronouncements mark a mainstreaming of eliminationist rhetoric: Where conservatives once coyly hinted at nativism, they now openly fantasize of murder.

Less evident, however, is where Democrats stand. While condemning the GOP’s rhetoric, they have, at the same time, fed into it. In September 2023, New York Mayor Eric Adams declared the influx of asylum seekers would ​destroy New York City.” In a January interview, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin declared ​the crisis at the border is the greatest crisis we face in America.” While Democratic leaders are more circumspect, they have largely conceded the moral upper ground: ​I think Republicans are seeing the Democrats are real about border security, consistent with our principles,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in border negotiations. With Dems like these, who needs enemies?

US mexico border wall

And where is the party’s leader? President Joe Biden has done a U-turn since 2020, when he vowed to end for-profit immigrant detention and declared ​no business should profit from the suffering of desperate people fleeing violence.” Meanwhile, as of July 2023, approximately 90% of immigrants held daily in ICE detention were in private facilities. While Biden vowed in 2020 that there would ​not be another foot of wall constructed” under his leadership, his administration has pressed forward with plans to expand border wall construction, even waiving environmental protection laws for endangered wildlife. The administration also signaled willingness to drastically expand migrant detention and deportation in exchange for. military aid to Ukraine.

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