While Trump may not be in office anymore, the Republican Party and their allies in the media are working overtime to make sure his hateful rhetoric and xenophobic agenda remain front and center in American politics. Barely two months into the Biden presidency and we are suddenly seeing a concentrated campaign to convince the nation that there is some sort of major crisis unfolding at the border as thousands of undocumented migrants, many of them children, arrive in search of asylum and opportunity.
The “crisis” narrative is quickly being picked up even by usually somewhat objective media outlets. “There’s a new surge of kids at the border, but the Biden administration won’t call it a crisis!” warns Zachary B Wolf at CNN.com, while Reuters announced, “Number of migrant children in U.S. border facilities soars amid growing crisis.” Congressional Republicans were delighted and continued pounding the message, spending the past week holding press conferences and border-wall photoshoots warning about the “Biden Border Crisis.”
What's happening at the border is more than a crisis. This is human heartbreak.
And it was created by the policies of President Biden. pic.twitter.com/PNUUoXy6NZ
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) March 15, 2021
The inherently negative framing of the reality that there are more people arriving than the immigration system is currently capable of handling is extremely problematic in and of itself. Obsessively labeling the situation as a “crisis” inherently designates the arrival of migrants as a negative event and flies in the face of the values we like to pretend this nation was founded on. What it actually is is a problem of logistics and red tape that can and must be aggressively dealt with by the government, but it is not a “crisis.”
The insistence on calling it a crisis is a reflection of the right-wing’s need to rile up xenophobes and smear all undocumented migration as an implicit threat to economic stability and white livelihoods, ironically representing the white supremacist values our nation was actually founded on. It’s painfully clear that the status quo among the Very Serious News Media is that they consider undocumented migration as inherently a negative thing and that deportations, asylum rejection, and disincentivizing migration are somehow a “moderate position.”
Even worse, the media is playing into the false Republican narrative that Joe Biden’s reversal of the sadistically cruel policies of the Trump administration is being interpreted as a green light for anyone and everyone to come to the United States, because this time they know that they won’t have their children torn away from them or be dumped across the border in a Mexican shantytown.
Every so-called “patriot” or Beltway bozo who criticizes the Biden administration for treating immigrants with a modicum of basic human decency should take a long look in the mirror and reflect on what it actually means to be an American and what they want this country to stand for. There is nothing moderate or good about turning our back on people seeking safety and economic opportunity, especially since the instability and violence in their home countries can inevitably be traced back to American imperialism in the first place.
Yes, there are too many people at the border for our inherently racist and cruel immigration system to take care of at the moment. Much of the blame for that rests with Donald Trump, whose administration deliberately fought to create the perception of a “crisis” and thus justify the vicious “solutions” that skull-faced freaks like Stephen Miller concocted to punish migrants for seeking safety and opportunity in the United States.
This does not make it “Biden’s fault,” nor does it change the fact that the Biden administration will not be able to flip a switch overnight — especially since the outgoing Trump officials did everything they could to sabotage the incoming administration. It is true that the Biden team needs to act decisively and quickly to unstick the gears on processing immigrants and finding them good lodging, and all indications show that the Biden team is working to do so. But too many “people want to emigrate to America” should never be considered a crisis, and playing into this rhetoric accomplishes nothing but promote white nationalist narratives and distortions.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.