Friday, December 4, 2020

Comentarios from Maria: Republican Opportunism Knows No Bounds

maria

Once again, Republicans are capitalizing on a tragedy – this time, one that took place three weeks ago in San Francisco – in which an undocumented immigrant with a criminal record killed Kathryn Steinle, an American citizen. Grotesquely, Congressional Republicans chose to politicize this tragedy to advance their anti-immigrant agenda that distorts the image of undocumented immigrants.

In particular, the GOP find in the program known as “Sanctuary Cities” an ideal platform from which to launch their campaign of mass deportations, which gives them the perfect excuse to evade the central issue of immigration reform – defining the future of 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in our country.

For the first time in two years, Congressional Republicans have decided to address the issue of immigration reform legislatively, but have arbitrarily and capriciously opted to focus on legislation that unfairly punishes cities like San Francisco. There, and in 200 other American cities, local authorities have taken steps to protect communities of undocumented immigrants by refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. This practice grew out of the recognition that if undocumented immigrants lived in fear that local authorities would implement immigration laws, there would not exist a sense of trust between the community and the police and would therefore create more unsafe cities.

Republican opportunism knows no limit, and in this tragedy it has found an opportunity to push Donald Trump’s disgusting anti-immigrant rhetoric that has resonated with the party’s extremist base. Without a doubt, there has to be more communication between the authorities so that criminal immigrants are deported. But it is foolish to paint all undocumented immigrants as criminals. According to Republican legislators in both houses, Sanctuary Cities and the immigrants that this policy protects are guilty in the murder of Kathryn Steinle. Thusly, representatives and senators presented legislation that would deny key funding from the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to the cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Republicans will claim that this legislation is necessary to preserve our national security. But the only thing it has achieved is to create a smokescreen to divert us from the true problem facing our immigration system, and criminalizes an entire community for the crimes of one of its members. Frankly, the Republican record contradicts its supposed concern with our national security. If they had any true interest in security, they would not have destroyed whatever hope there was to advance immigration reform passed in the Senate two years ago, and would not have blocked the executive orders of President Obama prioritizing the deportations of criminals.

What this week has proven is that the Republican Party will always align itself with their extremist, anti-immigrant base. Although their opportunism and exploitation is certainly repugnant, I am sure that this same opportunism will be the undoing of the Party in these presidential elections, and many more to come.

This article originally appeared in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic.