Since Republicans can’t run general election campaigns on gutting the safety net of our senior citizens, on destroying Obamacare once and for all, or the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy that has torn apart thousands of families apart at the border, they’re running on demonizing those same families in order to scare up their base. “Right on cue,” said immigrant rights group America’s Voice.
“Republican candidates across the country,” The Hill reports, “from [Tucson] 60 miles north of the border to states like North Dakota and Georgia, are warning voters that both crime and immigration are likely to spike if their Democratic opponents win office in November.” That, of course, is a big orange lie straight out of Trump University.
Decades of research has shown that immigrants are less likely than U.S.-born Americans to commit crime. In fact, The Marshall Project recently found, “the 10 places with the largest increases in immigrants all had lower levels of crime in 2016 than in 1980.” Additionally, the U.S./Mexico border is the most secure it’s been in decades, with unauthorized border crossings dropping sharply under Barack Obama.
The GOP’s goal, America’s Voice leader Frank Sharry said, “is to divide Americans by ‘othering’ immigrants and people of color.” It’s a strategy that’s failed a number of Trumpian candidates more recently, including gubernatorial candidates Ed Gillespie in Virginia and Kim Guadagno in New Jersey, who were soundly rejected by voters after conflating immigrant families with dangerous gang members.
In fact, since Donald Trump’s inauguration, American voters have become more supportive of immigrants, wanting higher levels of immigration, not less. Voters have also expressed massive support for immigrants like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. “The higher levels of support for immigration are driven by a surge in Democratic enthusiasm,” Vox reported, ”but Republican views are also shifting in the same direction.”
Republicans could be focusing on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) abuses, but that certainly doesn’t rile up the base like making up lies about the immigrant victims and the Democrats fighting to make sure they don’t languish—or lose their lives—in ICE detention. It also takes some big brass to accuse immigrants of criminality when there’s former Trump officials sitting in jail right now.
So rather than fearing this GOP game, Sharry says, Democrats should stand firm. “Yes, this campaign season will be marked by a relentless GOP onslaught of ugly images, racist smears and hateful attacks. But instead of being afraid of their divide-and-distract strategy, call it out. Instead of talking like Republicans in hopes of defusing wedge issues, call for us to come together from diverse backgrounds to craft pragmatic solutions that serve our interests and reflect our ideals.” Read more from Sharry on how Democrats and progressive should respond here.
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