The foundation of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for president was his branding of Mexican immigrants as rapist and criminals. His language for immigrants along the southern border now includes a characterization of Latino immigrants as “animals.”
It is clear that he sees this as a winning issue in 2020 just like in the campaign and election of 2016. Unlike Mexican immigrants that include millions of undocumented, the current flow is mostly refugees from Central America that are coming on a legal quest for asylum.
In 2016, Democrats displayed little effort to effectively counteract the Trump obscenity directed at the Latino community as President Obama previously appears to have decided not to include immigration reform on his political agenda during his first two years in office when he had a congressional majority. Instead, and some would say with some justification, he revved up his deportation machine to the point that he became known by many Latinos as the “Deporter in Chief.”
There are currently 15 democratic candidates running for president and as many as 10 more deciding whether to throw their hats in the ring. Among the top domestic issues the candidates are addressing are healthcare and universal insurance coverage, the economy and the tax cut for the rich, immigration and family separation at our southern border, treatment of women and the #MeToo Movement, climate change and energy policy and the Russians messing with our elections.
Some of the candidates emphasize some of these issues over others depending on their political leanings, their assessment of the audience around the country and what can separate them from the rest. There is a candidate however, Beto O’Rourke who declared his candidacy this past Sunday, that has chosen to take President Trump’s signature issue head-on.
O’Rourke is a native of El Paso, Texas and knows that culture and how it plays out on both sides of the border. He instinctively understands and feels this Eco-system that displays a deeper identity among those living on both the Mexican and American sides than their fellow citizens living further north or south.
Trump uses immigrants and refugees as a political ploy to reinforce his racist agenda. O’Rourke is in touch with the vibrations of the immigrant experience and senses the epic quality of their movement that for centuries has been transforming America.
The notion that the United States is an immigrant country has never been just words but a living experience that to deny it is to deny the existence of the basis of American exceptionalism. Since the very beginning of our nation, immigrants have provided the energy and the vision that can only come from the desire and drive toward the American dream.
It is taking a young man from a border city in Texas to effectively remind an old man that cares little about others and daily defrauds the immigrant concept that this is not who we are. It takes a young man from a border city in Texas to remind this old man that the American Dream is an immigrant dream and without immigrants there would be no America.
The political agendas for the campaigns and election of 2020 have to necessarily include immigration as a defining issue for the future of the country. That is the nature of history and destiny.
There is no getting around the fact that Latino immigrants in the form of refugees are at our doorstep. Be sure that whatever number is allowed in, will take on the challenge “con ganas.”