Fig. 1. Unattributed and undated photograph, via the British Broadcasting Corporation, August 12, 2020, fair use.
Republican governors in Arizona, Florida, and Texas have been flying and busing migrants to so-called “sanctuary” locales to try and gin up support for Republican campaigns:
The moves by the Republican governors came just months ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. Immigration continues to be a hot-button issue for many Republicans, including in Texas and Florida, where [Ron] DeSantis and [Greg] Abbott are seeking reelection. The way the governors are using immigration to drum up support is reminiscent of how Republicans in 2018, including former President Donald Trump, used the migrant caravans from Central America to stoke fear in an effort to keep their congressional majority.
Something I consistently see in conversations with my passengers as an Uber driver is that people in the U.S. typically only see “pull” factors as driving migration:
Not one person has asked for a handout; they have asked to work.
“Pull” factors are what attract migrants to a country. We pretend to value “hard work” and “initiative,” but we seek by any means possible to repel people who exhibit those very qualities while refusing to meaningfully address the “push” factors that drive them from home. Our stunning hypocrisy appears in all the obstacles we have to legal migration, like requiring Afghan asylum seekers to drive 14 hours for hearings, possibly in vain.
“Push” factors include violence, poverty, famine, and even rising sea levels. U.S. foreign, drug, trade, and climate policies all play a role in exacerbating these factors. It’s really the push factors that are most important, that make life where people are intolerable, that drive them to take unimaginable risks, like trekking across the desert to cross the U.S. southern border, like riding across choppy seas in overloaded and unseaworthy boats (figure 1), even like clinging to whatever handhold they can find in an unpressurized and frigid airplane landing gear bay.
In our lack of compassion, we exhibit not merely hypocrisy, but cruelty for the sake of cruelty, cruelty with no moral basis whatsoever.
- British Broadcasting Corporation, “English Channel migrants: Where they’re from and what they’re escaping,” August 12, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-53721146↩
- Lisa Kashinski, Sue Allan, and Gary Fineout, “GOP governors put focus on migrants with Martha’s Vineyard transport,” Politico, September 15, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/15/desantis-migrants-marthas-vineyard-immigration-florida-00056870; Alexander Thompson et al., “‘At first they were surprised, just like us.’ Martha’s Vineyard responds to surprise arrival of planeloads of migrants,” Boston Globe, September 15, 2022, https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/09/15/metro/marthas-vineyard-responds-surprise-arrival-planeloads-migrants/↩
- Lisa Kashinski, Sue Allan, and Gary Fineout, “GOP governors put focus on migrants with Martha’s Vineyard transport,” Politico, September 15, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/15/desantis-migrants-marthas-vineyard-immigration-florida-00056870↩
- Lisa Belcastro, quoted in Alexander Thompson et al., “‘At first they were surprised, just like us.’ Martha’s Vineyard responds to surprise arrival of planeloads of migrants,” Boston Globe, September 15, 2022, https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/09/15/metro/marthas-vineyard-responds-surprise-arrival-planeloads-migrants/↩
- Baylee DeMuth, “An unnecessary hurdle? Erie Afghan refugees could face 14-hour trip for asylum interviews,” Erie Times-News, September 15, 2022, https://www.goerie.com/story/news/local/2022/09/16/asylum-interviews-erie-pa-afghan-refugees-possibly-in-arlington-virginia-buffalo-new-york-pittsburgh/65554136007/↩
- David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).↩