In a recent tweet, President Trump warned the public about an ominous threat. The tweet read, "we cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country" and added "we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases" deport them. He was referring to illegal immigrants from Central America and Mexico. His contempt for these people is nothing new, though. Everybody knows where the far right -- Donald Trump included -- stands with respect to this issue.
White House officials and the administration allies in Congress routinely portray illegal aliens as vermin that need to be exterminated. They even cite passages from the Bible to justify the zero-tolerance policy. The alarmist rhetoric about our country being invaded by hordes of criminals, intent on stealing, raping and murdering, however, is really part of a much bigger syndrome of which we all need to be aware. Simply put, Republicans want to cleanse the United States of nonwhites. That explains not only the zero-tolerance policy, but also Republican efforts to curtail legal immigration from nonwhite countries. Just about all of the versions of the immigration legislation that Republicans have introduced in Congress, include provisions to not only ensure funding for a wall along the southern border, but also put limits on the rights of immigrants to sponsor family members.
Republicans call this "chain migration." That Melania Trump sponsored her parents so that they could come to the United States is beside the point. Mrs. Trump and her parents are from Slovenia, a European country. Republicans have no problem with “chain migration” from white countries. They do have a problem, however, with "chain migration" from "shithole countries." This is the term Donald Trump used to refer to Mexico and other countries in Central America and Africa. Republican animosity against immigrants from these countries runs so deep that stopping legal immigration and deporting every single illegal alien from this country will probably not be enough.
It should not come as a surprise if the next move they make is introducing legislation in Congress akin to the Nazi Nuremberg laws, which – among other things -- stripped German Jews of German citizenship. There is yet another factor lurking in the background that explains this intense aversion to nonwhites. The ethnic composition of the United States is changing. The growth rate of the nonwhite population -- African Americans, Latinos and Asians -- is higher than that of the white population. Even if all immigration came abruptly to an end, the trend will likely continue. That is a function of the fact that the fertility rate of white women is lower than that of women in the aforementioned ethnic groups.
Republicans are keenly aware of this demographic shift and fear losing political relevance because nonwhites, by and large, identify more closely with Democrats than with them. Though this fear is to some extent understandable, it is not justifiable. Republicans have only themselves to blame for the affinity of nonwhites with the Democratic party. Instead of accepting change and adapting to it, they have been pandering, for decades, to the far-right and have gone as far as embracing seedy characters like Steve Bannon and riff raff like David Duke, with open arms. To be fair, this embrace does not imply that everybody who voted Republican in the last election was an extremist. Many working-class voters had –and still have -- legitimate concerns about being dislocated by free-trade agreements. That nobody – including Democrats — had the courage to tell these folks that their problem was not free trade, but having obsolete skills, is a different subject, though.
The big irony about Republicans’ fear of losing political relevance is that, by abandoning cornerstone principles of Republican philosophy like free trade, open markets, and self-reliance and by pandering to the worst instincts of disgruntled white voters and embracing extremists, their fear will probably become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As Shakespeare wrote in Julius Cesar, "the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
Hernández lives in Waitsfield.