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“Under Attack”: TX Law Targets Immigrants as Trump Cites Hitler, GOP Pushes Biden for Border Crackdown

StoryDecember 20, 2023
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As Senate leaders say President Biden will have to wait until next year to negotiate a deal with Republicans on immigration as part of an emergency funding package, the leading GOP presidential candidate doubled down on his hateful comments about immigrants that echoed Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. This comes as Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a major Trump supporter, approved a sweeping new law that allows police to arrest anyone they suspect to have entered into the United States without authorization. “It’s very clear that we are under attack. … We have targets on our backs,” says Marisa Limón Garza, executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, which is challenging the new Texas law along with other rights groups.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

Senate leaders say President Biden will have to wait until next year to negotiate a deal with Republicans on immigration as part of an emergency funding package for Ukraine and Israel and Taiwan and more. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, the leading Republican candidate in next year’s presidential race, doubled down on his hateful comments about immigrants at a campaign event Tuesday in Iowa, when he paraphrased the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler as he spoke between two Christmas trees.

DONALD TRUMP: It’s crazy, what’s going on. They’re ruining our country. And it’s true: They’re destroying the blood of our country. That’s what they’re doing. They’re destroying our country. They don’t like it when I said that. And I never read Mein Kampf.

AMY GOODMAN: Hitler used the phrase “blood poisoning” in Mein Kampf to argue German blood was being, quote, “poisoned” by Jews. Trump drew outrage for similar comments at a rally Saturday in New Hampshire.

This comes as Texas Governor Greg Abbott, major Trump supporter, approved a sweeping new law, just signed it into law, that allows police to arrest anyone they suspect to have entered the U.S. without authorization.

For more, we’re joined by Marisa Limón Garza, executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, which is part of a lawsuit to stop the new Texas law from going into effect in March. Her op-ed for The Messenger is headlined “The Senate Shouldn’t Treat Migrants as Bargaining Chips.”

Marisa, welcome back to Democracy Now! Let’s start with the law that the governor signed in the last few days. The significance of what this means, and why even local police chiefs are against this in Texas?

MARISA LIMÓN GARZA: So, Senate Bill 4 here in the state of Texas is part of legislation that the governor has been pushing since the regular session. This was just the end of the fourth special session, specifically to push on school vouchers, public education, as well as on this anti-immigrant, racist policy. This is built off of the knowledge of what happened with Arizona in SB 1070, the “Show Me Your Papers” law there. And it finds — it’s a little more slippery. It finds loopholes that are able to make it so that any peace officer anywhere in the state of Texas, not just along the southern border, but anywhere, and loosely defined — if this peace officer has probable cause, they can make the determination that if a person has not crossed into Texas from Mexico at an official U.S. port of entry, they can then be detained, jailed and even deported. Obviously, this is the jurisdiction of the federal government, which is why we’re calling on the Department of Justice to immediately get involved. And yes, Las Americas, along with American Gateways, our partners at the El Paso County and the ACLU, are in litigation against SB4 and its rollout.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Marisa, you’ve written that your office had received a staggering number of calls, up to 7,000 a day, from asylum seekers in Ciudad Juárez. How do you see the situation now, especially those Americans who say that the situation at the border is completely out of control?

MARISA LIMÓN GARZA: So, I’d just like to paint a picture. You know, the reality at the southern border is we have been seeing a small piece of what is global migration. So, this phenomenon is 110 million people forcibly displaced across the globe, according to U.N. statistics, for the month of September. And so, this is just one pedazito of that reality.

And it’s important also to recognize that the state of Texas is, in fact, you know, a multiracial democracy. It just happens to be one that is severely oppressed. And this attempt at erasure really makes things a lot more complicated. We have to take that into context, along with the reality that Texas has very lax gun laws, the reality that Texas does not really make it easy for people to vote, does not provide a quality education for the young people of this state. We’re focused on banning books. We’re focusing on eliminating diversity, equity, inclusion at public universities. So it’s basically the silencing and the erasure of a people. And that cannot go uncontested.

And if we, again, zoom out, we know that this global migration — and specifically the people that we’re seeing along the U.S.-Mexico border reflect global migration, but it also reflects U.S. involvement around the globe, but particularly in Central and South America. Whether it’s destabilization during the Obama administration, whether it’s further back, there are U.S. fingerprints all over the migrants that we see at the southern border.

Our work is to accompany. So we do that as folks reach out to us, whether it’s from Tapachula, Querétaro, Mexico City, to Ciudad Juárez. We accompany people across the port, and then we accompany people in the U.S. detention settings, as well as in our community. And we like to do as warm handoffs as possible to folks in the interior. And it’s important to recognize that, actually, USCIS is doing a phenomenal job of a new program where they are collocating with us at the southern border in San Diego, El Paso and Brownsville to make sure that people, migrants who use CBP One, the application that this administration has put forward as the tool that should be used, if they come through that app and they come to one of the shelters that’s offering the service, they will be able to leave our community with a work authorization. That means that when they get to Chicago, New York, L.A., wherever, they will rely much less on the social safety nets of those communities and will begin to have a dignified life as they go through their asylum claims.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And we have about a minute left. Could you talk about the response of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to the Biden administration basically not even consulting them in terms of its decisions on negotiations for another $14 billion in border security money that the president is requesting?

MARISA LIMÓN GARZA: Yes. We were all duped. You know, we’ve been involved in conversations with the Biden administration since they were the transition team. I personally have hosted Secretary Mayorkas in our office. I sat next to the vice president when she was here. Our local bishop welcomed President Biden and spent several minutes with him in private. They know our reality. And they know that these leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus represent us. And they’re not being quiet. They’re being quite loud. And the fact that they’re not even being given the respect of a seat at the table is a further slap in the face of everything that we’re trying to accomplish.

And the representation that we have, none of the Senate negotiators are people of color. The one senator who is a person from a borderland state is Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona, and she does not live near the border. Our two senators here in Texas, Ted Cruz and Senator Cornyn, do not have offices in El Paso. If you go to their website, it says “contact us. So they have them everywhere else.

And so, it’s very clear that we are under attack. It’s very clear from the language of the previous president and from our governor, who’s interested in being his running mate, that we have targets on our backs. And we in El Paso, along with people in Uvalde and all across the country, know that when you mix that kind of rhetoric with gun laws that we have and policies and laws like SB4, it’s very dangerous cocktail.

AMY GOODMAN: Marisa Limón Garza, we want to thank you so much for being with us, executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. We’re going to link to your piece in The Messenger, “The Senate Shouldn’t Treat Migrants as Bargaining Chips.”

That does it for our show. Democracy Now! is produced with Mike Burke, Renée Feltz, Deena Guzder, Messiah Rhodes, Nermeen Shaikh, María Taracena, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, John Hamilton, Robby Karran. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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