Venezuelans: Pawns of US Policy

There is no way to begin to break down such nonsense without feeling outraged. First of all, because of the human condition of the victims of this cruel move.

The painful treatment recently suffered by a group of Venezuelan immigrants in the United States is not simply reprehensible. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the real objective of the policy and whether or not it was achieved.

The news, which reverberated internationally, was that 50 of our compatriots were flown from the border state of Texas in the U.S. Southwest to the exclusive residential island of Martha’s Vineyard on the East Coast of the U.S.

What was most striking was the absurdity of the move: Why were people sent to a place that is so far away? The answer was unusual. They were tricked, offered a house and a job so that they would agree to leave voluntarily. When they arrived at their destination, they were abandoned.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered and paid for the move with out any reason and merely as a political move. Our compatriots were dumped near the residence of former President Barack Obama, an adversary of DeSantis. As a Democrat, Obama was receptive to immigration. The Republicans, from an anti-immigrant position, sent the following message: “Let them stay at Obama’s house. Let him take care of them.”

There is no way to begin to break down such nonsense without being outraged. First of all, because of the human condition of the victims of this cruel move. And it is very difficult to set aside the fact that they are our compatriots. We hurt even more because we know very well the situation they are fleeing and the hopes they staked on the journey made at extreme sacrifice.

There is no such thing as an “illegal” person. “Illegality” is a term assigned to immigrants without documentation to justify taking away their rights. The proper phrase is “without documents.” Unauthorized or undocumented migration is not a crime, it is a civil offense. These immigrants have human rights; they have the right to apply for asylum, the right of due process of the law, and freedom from arbitrary detention.

Once across the border, our immigrants turned themselves in to U.S. authorities, thus subject to legal protections. Many of them had already been heard and were moving through the asylum process. Human rights specialists in south Texas made it clear that this region is capable of handling these cases, which have been happening on a daily basis and in large numbers for decades.

They were already in a shelter, and the next step was to facilitate their transfer to other cities where many of them had relatives who could take care of them, even financially. Various civil, religious and governmental institutions work in the area. They were then able to proceed with their asylum cases; many already had appointments. The abrupt transfer erased the little they had achieved and left them to their fate in a place where there were no staff, shelters or institutions to care for them, much less opportunities for employment.

The objective was to give those who live on the island, those who are politically inclined against Florida’s governor, a hard time. An island “of the rich,” as they themselves describe it.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Martha’s Vineyard residents quickly organized to care for the newcomers. Authorities arrived to look after the migrants, who were transferred to the the state’s military base on Cape Cod to continue the legal process.

It is worth noting that, according to experts, the United States still needs a larger workforce. Between 1 million and 2 million new jobs a year are filled by immigrants who do not take jobs away from Americans, since they often perform jobs that citizens won’t in agriculture and construction.

And many of those who publicly take anti-immigration positions have hired immigrants without documentation under the table. Why do they do this? Perhaps to terrorize them and thus be able to pay them for their work at well-below-market rates.

My final thought is this: Why were our compatriots used as pawns in a political diatribe? In this case, a win-win approach was possible, one that treated the migrants with dignity and was open to the idea that the United States would benefit from having them.

If the objective is to inflict harm on the opposition only for the sake of doing harm, and in the process they play with the condition of vulnerable human beings, then these characters have an extremely deficient idea about politics.

Let’s hope that the American political debate manages to rise above the miseries that polarization brings. We Venezuelans already know enough about that.

About this publication

About Patricia Simoni 164 Articles
I began contributing to Watching America in 2009 and continue to enjoy working with its dedicated translators and editors. Latin America, where I lived and worked for over four years, is of special interest to me. Presently a retiree, I live in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I enjoy the beauty of this rural state and traditional Appalachian fiddling with friends. Working toward the mission of WA, to help those in the U.S. see ourselves as others see us, gives me a sense of purpose.

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