Immigration takes centre stage in US President primaries

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Immigration takes centre stage in US President primaries

Sunday, 07 April 2024 | Manan Dwivedi

Immigration takes centre stage in US President primaries

President Biden faces Republican criticism over his policies, especially concerning Mexican migration. The issue gains momentum amid global observations of Trump’s immigration clampdown and domestic instability in Mexico. These factors shape crucial debates in the upcoming elections

Elections in any nation tend to be hotly and keenly contested occasions, whether it is the campaign utilising roaring tigers in Pakistan by the PML(N) or the whistle-stop tours of the American Presidential Elections. For a long time in the United States, immigration of aliens has been a theme that has drawn both strategic and political traction. In the contemporary context of the US Presidential primaries, before the elections heat up to a crescendo, President Joe Biden is being attacked by the Republicans for his stance and policies on immigration. Mexico stars in the debates and discussions wherein, once the migration of Mexican settlers increases to 5,000 people per day, then the American checkpoints close down.

Donald Trump and the Republicans do not intend to be seen as weak or soft on the theme of Mexican influx, so they assail President Biden whenever the opportunity arises.

According to one American survey, undocumented aliens account for around 11 million in the American homeland. They enter the nation and dissipate into the realm of unorganised vocations and the resultant economy, which has been a difficult challenge for investigative and law enforcement agencies. If one refers to the Hollywood flick, “Scarface,” the entire American nation’s mafia emigrated from Italy and other European nations and began to rule the political and economic roost in the US, consistent with one assessment of the dark economy and societal nature.

The domestic situation in the nation-state of Mexico is also in a state of instability and flux as controversies cast a pall of despondency over the country. Reuters reported in one of its articles: “Huge crowds filled Mexico City’s main square on Sunday in support of the nation’s electoral authority, accusing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of trying to weaken the body ahead of a presidential election in June. The protests, one of several in recent years, meant to ‘protect’ the National Electoral Institute (INE), come after Lopez Obrador sent a sweeping package of constitutional reforms to Congress, which would include an overhaul of the INE.”

One can hark back to the issue of illegal migration into the US from Mexico and South America. The Darien Gap is a stretch of densely forested land that serves as a conduit for illicit migration into the US territory. Depending on what they can pay, people trudge through the Darien swamp and walk for five to ten days at the mercy of criminal gangs who, after demanding a lump sum amount, often maim, mutilate, and rape the migrants in the Darien Gap. These are a few of the issues being debated in the US Presidential Election deliberations for November 2024.

In March 2024, a report succinctly states that a highly anticipated bipartisan immigration and foreign aid bill was recently defeated by former President Trump, a staunch opponent of a border deal. He actively lobbied Republicans to vote against the bill, despite its inclusion of many provisions they had initially supported. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell succumbed to Trump’s influence, voting against the bill despite his role in its development and his prior efforts to garner support within his party.

This action by McConnell has further intensified the electoral confrontation between the two presidential candidates. With some Americans advocating strongly for immigration reforms, President Biden could leverage Republican intransigence on immigration to lay blame on Trump for obstructing progress on immigration policy. The rhetoric surrounding immigration policy remains highly divisive, potentially leading to further recriminations from both presidential candidates.

Further north in the United States of America, Republicans have seized upon illegal immigration as a pivotal issue in the 2024 Presidential primaries. While it might be considered hyperbolic, one cannot ignore the significant role immigration plays as an electoral issue that could sway the outcome of the US Presidential Elections. The notion of aliens posing a threat to national and homeland security in the US has gained considerable political and popular traction. Republicans have intensified their criticism of President Biden’s lenient approach towards the steady and unlawful influx of immigrants from South America through Mexico. This has emerged as a central electoral theme, eliciting considerable criticism and political upheaval.

It has been argued that American immigration policies are failing. Recently, it’s been contended that the system is broken and could potentially harm President Biden’s re-election prospects. In Latin America, for example, countries like Venezuela are suffering under the grip of kleptocracy, which adversely affects both the nation and its people. So, what is the solution? The pertinent question arises: do people migrate to the United States of America to escape repression and hardships, seeking the promise of a brighter future despite the perceived decline in America’s fortunes?

Immigration laws are under scrutiny as Capitol Hill debates intensify. There are concerted efforts to amend immigration laws within the American homeland. Efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, for the first time in decades, have gained sudden momentum. Additionally, the upcoming US Presidential election will likely revolve around the dilemma of whether citizenship or permanent resident status, signified by a green card, will become the prevailing norm, and how much emphasis the twin candidates will place on this issue.

There was a global impact of Trump’s immigration clampdown, which was observed by IR experts and the legal fraternity.

The first executive order signed by President Trump disallowed migrants from seven West Asian nations to enter the American homeland.

One of the initial executive orders signed by President Joe Biden revoked these bans on migrants from Islamic countries. These nations included Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Sudan. However, one cannot overlook the fact that the agencies responsible for monitoring and tracking terrorist outfits such as Boko Haram, ISIS, the Taliban, and Al-Shabaab are the worst affected when deals occur between political leaders. Trump’s bravado, premised upon the theme of immigration, resulted in a plethora of economic costs and was fraught with political risks.

Several European nations, similar to the United States of America, are facing the menace of migration from conflict zones such as Ukraine, Syria, and Iraq, thereby initiating talks of fencing and walling the frontiers and borders, which is exactly what former President Trump also advocated on the global stage, specifically in America. As a telling fact, the cost of managing the Oresund bridge between Denmark and Sweden is a significant amount. Additionally, apart from Mexican human outages, gun running, and drug trafficking pose a perilous threat to the homeland security of the United States of America.

In the Hollywood film “The Mule,” released in 2018, Clint Eastwood’s character, Earl Stone, indulges in drug trafficking after his flower farming business goes bankrupt.

(The writer teaches at International Relations and International Organisations, Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi)

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