16 July, 2020 – Since the inception of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has made his position against migrants very clear. Initially, his messages targeted Mexicans. Within days of his taking power, he issued the first travel ban on people from Muslim nations, which had a devastating impact. A campaign promise that was finally declared constitutional by the Supreme Court after a long legal battle in which the previous versions had been suspended by federal courts. The third version covered up the discriminatory intent by including Venezuela and North Korea. The intention of the measure was not only to stop the entry of people, but to send a message, which was received by the Muslim communities.
Thus, we have reacted to every decision, policy, rule, measure, and initiative against foreign people in this blog. We are in the presence of a government with an unequivocally xenophobic, white supremacist agenda, which has used power against foreigners, immigrants, students, tourists, refugees, asylum seekers, adults and children. The pandemic has been used as a valuable excuse to prevent the entry of people from certain countries, to close the border to all asylum seekers, to return all people entering the US through the southern border to Mexico, and to suspend hearings before immigration judges. Most recently, a new rule was announced under which people may be denied asylum due to public health considerations, and it was announced that international students could not maintain their immigration status if they did not take a minimum number of in-person classes, a measure that was rolled back after public outcry and lawsuits against this decision. Finally, ICE announced a new initiative creating a 6-week training program for community members, on how to arrest immigrants, including firearms and defense training. Training anti-immigrant citizen groups is a step towards advancing a xenophobic agenda. For all of the above, it is not surprising that the presidential announcement of the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative is being received with distrust and that the public opinion expresses its rejection against those who support them.
Although the entry of asylum seekers to the US has been suspended, deportations and immigration detention continue. Despite infections in detention centers, airports closings and suspension of commercial flights, charter flights from the United States with deportees are still arriving in the countries of Central America and Mexico. A significant number of deportees have become ill with COVID-19 or have become ill in the days following arrival, confirming that there is a risk of infection in immigration detention and deportation. These measures are the result of policies that undervalue the lives and well-being of foreigners. In Guatemala, 134 deported people have tested positive for COVID-19. In the case of Honduras, in the first six months of this year, the United States deported 10,614 undocumented Honduran immigrants, including 888 minors. The precarious health care systems in the countries of Central America jeopardize the availability of care and recovery for people deported with this disease. This is in addition to the discrimination suffered by people and their families in their countries of origin once deported, because they are all considered “carriers of the virus ”.
Mexico is an accomplice to this practice of deporting immigrants amid the pandemic. According to data from the Secretary of the Interior, more than 124,000 immigrants have been deported from Mexico as of May this year. The US efforts to extend extraterritorially its immigration policies are concerning, particularly when it is imposing them as a condition for commercial agreements and assistance in the context of the pandemic. For all the above, it is difficult to understand who President Andrés Manuel López Obrador believes to be deceiving when he says he feels respected by Donald Trump. It is evident that the nearly 13 million of its nationals living in the US do not feel respected.
Foreigners in the United States who have come seeking protection, security, job opportunities and well-being suffer from xenophobia, despite the great contributions they make to the U.S. society. Excuses and justifications are impossible. It is necessary to start clearly and unequivocally calling things by their names, and to continue fighting and advocating for the rights of migrants.