America’s fear of immigration

America’s fear of immigration

The recent Haitian refugee crisis on the U.S-Mexico border has reminded the world of America’s most shameful taboo

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Ryan Harris Jewell

Humanity’s greatest sickness is its irrational fear of itself. Borders and nations are all concepts created out of this fear, built on a distrust of those from the other side and supported by stories designed to turn our common man into a devilish figure, worthy of our fear and unworthy of our humanity.

This continued narrative of fear has been fuelled for generations by those who wish to maintain the status quo, who themselves are the most fearful of losing their power. 

Be it from the government or the media, we are fed portrayals and stereotypes of the migrant as a member of an invading hoard, who seek only violence and anarchy.

A moral panic has been created around those travelling from lands foreign to the West, with news stories and government reports stripping away their humanity and subjugating them into mere statistics. In the eyes of those in control of this narrative, a border-crosser is not a person with their own life and story, but simply a number amongst thousands.

And it is this stripping away of human characteristics which has inevitably turned the migrant into a folk devil in the eyes of a nation built by the hands of countless migrants.

From the outside looking in, it is hard to understand how the United States of America, a land built on immigration, could fear those from the outside.

But along its 1,954-mile-long border with Mexico, which stretches across a diverse landscape of harsh deserts, rivers and urban areas, we can see how fear can act as a catalyst to create hatred and distrust towards those who travel across from the other side.

America’ s abuse towards those who travel across the Rio Grande to answer her siren call has a long and dark history, which has escalated into the modern era.

The paranoia around America’s border with Mexico has only increased since the turn of the 21st century, with four presidential administrations, two Republican and two Democrat, each increasing the size and scale of both the border wall and the agency patrolling it. 

Both Bush and Obama increased the length of the wall during their presidency as well as the funding of related agencies like the U.S border patrol.

And then there’s Trump, whose presidency will be remembered mostly for its strict border policy which included the separation and detention of families, the further expansion of the border wall and the $16 billion spent in funding towards border control over his term in office.

Biden’s administration was a supposed sign of change from Trump’s isolationist-like policies towards immigration, however just like the presidencies of his peers we are seeing all too clearly that the fear which has gripped the White House for decades still leaks from its walls, flooding its rooms with immigration policies devoid of compassion.

A perfect example of this can be found with the recent actions taken against Haitian refugees attempting to flee the economic and social strife’s that are pulling their island nation’s future into a dark abyss of uncertainty.

Thousands of Haitians are reported to have made the long and arduous journey from Haiti, travelling through central America on a journey to the U.S border which would of saw many victimised by violent gangs, people smugglers and even local authorities looking to rob them of every last penny.

At the rear end of their long and arduous journey, these refugees would have hoped to have crossed the Rio Grande into a welcoming land of prosperity but instead they were met by USBP agents on horseback, telling them to turn back with the threat and inevitable implementation of violence that followed their refusal. 

It has been estimated that over 30,000 refugees have been expelled by border control agents, many under Title 42, a controversial emergency public health order created under Trump during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued under Biden which allows for the mass and immediate expulsion of immigrants.  

The treatment of these refugees has resulted in mass public and international backlash, with the Haitian envoy to the U.S pulling out over the controversy. However, whilst such backlash may suggest an American public whose patience with the moral panic of the immigrant has long grown thin, the actions of those in power at the Oval Office still serves as a reminder that be it a Democrat or a Republican, they all fear the immigrant.