Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who has always taken a hardline stance against illegal immigration, is caught in a scandal around illegally hiring an undocumented worker. Democrats slammed DeSantis, calling him a “hypocrite or a liar.” As the U.S. midterms loom, illegal immigration, a volatile issue on the U.S. political scene, has once again triggered a war of words between the two parties.
The Washington Examiner reported on Oct. 22 that the Florida government hired an immigrant living in the country illegally to help coordinate the use of private planes to transport immigrants from Florida to Massachusetts in September. According to the report, an immigrant named Emmanuel was hired by the company responsible for managing the two flights, and under Florida law, government contractors cannot hire immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally. DeSantis, a Republican who has flown the flag for “anti-immigration” policies, was embarrassed by the revelation.
When those who are against illegal immigration rely on immigrants who have entered the country illegally it is not surprising that such duplicity attracts ridicule. Stars and Stripes reported on Oct. 23 that after Florida was hit by Hurricane Ian much of the local reconstruction work had to be done by undocumented workers who are not welcome by Gov. DeSantis, as more than 10% of U.S construction jobs are filled by immigrants without permanent legal status. The newspaper said that this put Florida, a Republican stronghold, in an awkward position as it tries to recover: “Can Florida rebuild without [immigrants]?”
This string of embarrassments is the inevitable result of the double standard applied by U.S. politicians when dealing with illegal immigration. For years U.S. politicians have spared no effort to spin the issue of illegal immigration for political gain while enjoying the huge economic benefit it creates. From farms in California to construction sites in Florida, immigrants who lack legal status have been the mainstay of many high-risk, low-paying jobs in the U.S. For U.S. politicians such immigrants are “money bags” when the economy needs them to provide their labor or pay taxes and “bad guys” who take American jobs when they need votes.
Since April, in order to demonstrate their tough stance on the issue of refugees and to express dissatisfaction with the federal government’s immigration policy, some Republican governors, including DeSantis, have used buses and planes to send incoming immigrants to Democratic-run locations like New York, Illinois and Washington, D.C. This “burden-sharing” movement of immigrants from southern red states has not only caused huge political and judicial controversy in the U.S. but has also spread the refugee problem to the north of the country. Since September, several blue states such as Illinois and “sanctuary cities” including Washington, D.C. and New York have declared a state of emergency in response to the “migration crisis” created by the red states.
Clearly, as midterm election day approaches, Republicans are trying to create more chaos around immigration, an issue where the Democrats already underperform, in order to damage Democratic Party chances. The U.K.’s Financial Times commented that the Republicans were trying to boost their popularity in the midterms with an immigration stunt. After the Supreme Court overturned national abortion protections, and after former President Donald Trump’s alleged leaks of information from Mar-a-Lago, the Republicans now need to regain the advantage over the Democrats.
To a large extent the problem of illegal immigration in the U.S. is the bitter fruit of its own actions. On Oct. 23, citing data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Associated Press reported a record high of 2.38 million illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border in the past year through Sept. 30. The countries that are the main source of undocumented immigrants to the U.S. have undergone perennial interference and plunder by the U.S. and been mired in political turmoil, economic stagnation and social division for a long time. Some have been subjected to an economic blockade imposed by the U.S. through unilateral sanctions and long-arm control, which has disrupted normal economic and social development. It could be said that the illegal immigration problem in the U.S. is a terrible mess created by its own overbearing policies.
However U.S. politicians never reflect on this, instead blaming immigrants, who are the victims. The non-stop “immigration war” between the two parties once again shows the world the hypocrisy of U.S.-style human rights. Immigrants are unashamedly used as “pawns” and “bargaining chips” in a U.S. “Game of Thrones.”
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