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The Politics of Bigotry

Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

Republicans are outraged — outraged! — at the surge of migrants on the southern border. The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, declares it a “crisis ... created by the presidential policies of this new administration.” Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs claims “we go through some periods where we have these surges, but right now is probably the most dramatic that I’ve seen at the border in my lifetime.”

Donald Trump demands the Biden administration “immediately complete the wall, which can be done in a matter of weeks — they should never have stopped it. They are causing death and human tragedy.”

“Our country is being destroyed!” he adds.

In fact, there’s no surge of migrants at the border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended 28 percent more migrants from January to February this year than in previous months. But, as the Washington Post notes, this was largely seasonal. Two years ago, apprehensions increased 31 percent during the same period. Three years ago, it was about 25 percent from February to March. Migrants start coming when winter ends and the weather gets a bit warmer, then stop coming in the hotter summer months when the desert is deadly.

To be sure, there is a humanitarian crisis of children detained in overcrowded border facilities. And an even worse humanitarian tragedy in the violence and political oppression in Central America, worsened by U.S. policies over the years, that’s driving migration in the first place.

 

But the “surge” has been fabricated by Republicans in order to stoke fear — and, not incidentally, to justify changes in laws they say are necessary to prevent non-citizens from voting.

Republicans continue to allege — without proof — that the 2020 election was rife with fraudulent ballots, many from undocumented immigrants. Over the past six weeks they’ve introduced some 250 bills in 43 states designed to make it harder for people to vote — especially the young, the poor, Black people and Hispanic Americans, all of whom are likely to vote for Democrats — by eliminating mail-in ballots, reducing times for voting, decreasing the number of drop-off boxes, demanding proof of citizenship, even making it a crime to give water to people waiting in line to vote.

To stop this, Democrats are trying to enact a sweeping voting rights bill called the For the People Act, which protects voting, ends partisan gerrymandering and keeps dark money out of elections. It already passed the House, but Republicans in the Senate are fighting it with more lies.

On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas falsely claimed the new bill would register millions of undocumented immigrants to vote and accused Democrats of wanting the most violent criminals to cast ballots too.

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