Recently Republican governors and lawmakers have been playing political football with people’s lives. They have been loading recently arrived immigrants—men, women, children, and even newborns—on buses and planes and shipping them to “liberal” cities to prove a point to Democratic lawmakers. As a nation of immigrants, both voluntary and involuntary, the recent behavior of Republican politicians is disgraceful and cruel.
Many of the recently arrived immigrants are arriving with little to no English and have been promised the prospect of jobs and housing. Many are desperate and are looking to establish roots in order to take care of themselves and their families. Like Irish, Italian, and German immigrants sought to do just a century ago, these new immigrants from Mexico and Central America are literally seeking the same thing as the grandparents of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and current Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
Republican lawmakers are dropping off the newly arrived immigrants in sanctuary cities, communities with formal and informal policies that limit and/or discourage cooperation with local law enforcement from using one’s immigration status against individuals unless a serious crime is reported.
The governors of Texas and Florida, Abbott and DeSantis respectively, have made the lives of vulnerable people their political game. They argue that cities like Washington, D.C. (in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’ home), New York City, and even the small island of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts should have newly arrived immigrants dropped at their doorsteps. Part of their strategy is the belief that Democratic cities will be as cruel and unwelcoming as other places have been. In many ways their strategy has backfired. Democratic mayors have rallied resources and are thinking of ways to expedite paperwork so these individuals can get jobs and job training as well as housing.
Communities and neighbors are figuring out ways to donate food and clothing and rally to accommodate some of the city’s most vulnerable. It is apparent that Republican lawmakers will continue these antics in the weeks leading up to the November 8th election since Republicans tend to make “caravans of illegal immigrants invading your towns” a central and steady argument to their election strategy every election season.
It is imperative we as a city and a nation do not fall for this divisive and hateful rhetoric. Yes, it will be difficult at times to accommodate newly arrived groups, but this is what this country has done for centuries, literally. As waves of immigrants came from European nations, they were treated with hateful imagery, discrimination, and exclusionary practices. Sadly, some of their descendants have now taken up the mantle of exclusion and are attempting to do the same.
Do not fall for the alarmist rhetoric of Republicans. America has the resources and we should pressure our electeds to make sure they are distributed equitably.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and host of The Blackest Questions podcast at TheGrio.