OCTOBER 30, 2018
This morning, the sitting U.S. president announced his intention to end birthright citizenship for children of immigrants. Many point to this being an absolute disregard for the constitutional right granted by the 14th amendment. However, as immigrant youth, we know this is simply a political ploy aimed at igniting his populist base, many of which have nationalist inklings.
Across the globe, nationalism and fascism have been spreading at the expense of immigrants seeking refuge from the repercussions of a world at war. In Brazil, Bolsonaro’s victory tapped into a populism with his “make Brazil great again” rhetoric, mirroring the language of the sitting U.S. president. In Europe, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has been busy uniting a far-right populist movement specifically targeting the influx of Syrian immigrants, creating a sense of nationalist pride that occults the white supremacist tendencies of the base.
Here in the United States, Trump has been hosting rallies across the country embracing nationalism, and spreading false accusations of there being Middle Eastern migrants in the Central American caravan making its way through Mexico. Despite media outlets, community organizers, and general concerned Americans condemning these statements and challenging their validity, the base Trump is attempting to ignite has been unleashed.
Because therein lies the problem with the brand of populism Trump and other international far-right politicians have been meddling with. When racism and fear are utilized to galvanize a people, facts and reality become unnecessary. Despite these opportunistic demagogues utilizing populist rhetoric to galvanize their xenophobic masses, their agenda contradicts the very concept of “the people” versus “the elite” that populism bases its foundation on. To blame, we point to Cambridge Analytica’s social media propaganda for successfully convincing white poor Americans that a multi-millionaire who makes it a sport to avoid taxes is somehow the person who will take on the American elite.
So though many will focus on the constitutionality or the morality of ending birthright citizenship, we instead want to point to the motive behind Trump making this radical move to begin with. In pushing his xenophobic agenda to new grounds, Trump is continuing to fuel a white pride across the country veiled behind economic nationalism. He is legitimizing the hatred that has led to the deaths of an anti-fascist protester in Charlottesville, two Black elderly folks at the hands of a white supremacist in Kentuky, and the 11 Jewish worshippers in Pittsburg. He is, in fact, enacting a nationalist agenda set on demonizing and getting rid of non-citizens for the purpose of advancing towards a white ethno-state.
As globally displaced people, it is our birthright to exist where we are able to find safety and community. The world at war destroyed our homelands–politically and/or economically–and it is the role of those countries responsible to provide refuge. As such, we denounce all forms of nationalism spreading across the globe (and even in our own homelands), and demand that we collectively fight for a world that protects everyone’s birthright to live.
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CIYJA STAFF is comprised of immigrant youth across the state of California, fighting for the liberation of all immigrant communities.
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