As 2022 draws to a close, I reflect upon the events that happened over the calendar year. This opportunity is imbued with a sense of relief and disconcerting energy, in equal measure. The midterm elections took a fair share of attention, and even as a projected political shift to the right did not materialize, I still have a feeling that many concerning issues in the community will largely go unaddressed as priorities are rehashed and reshaped.
As was the case during the peak stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, broader concerns about providing and codifying relief for migrants were largely dismissed in policy circles. This was very disappointing given the level of vitriol and grandstanding that was performed in conservative-leaning states, where a show was made of bussing migrants to the north in a ploy to garner electoral clout in anticipation of the midterms. The lack of urgency in publicly denouncing these detestable acts, coupled with the dehumanizing way in which many mainstream media outlets created a spectacle with the ensuing bipartisan tension, failed to center the very real fact that these were people being exploited for cheap political points.
I reflect on this a few days after International Human Rights Day and International Migrants Day fell on Dec. 10. At the time this column is being written, there is a lot of contention around letting Title 42 expire. The code, enacted through the previous administration, was a restrictive policy that used the pandemic as grounds for expelling migrants without giving them the opportunity to make a case before an immigration judge. The continued use of the policy is as much racist as it is cover for conservatives to figuratively stick their head in the sand, hoping that migrants will simply go away.
In addition to Title 42, the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is still very tenuous. It’s difficult to feel any sense of comfort around the future of this program knowing that the current iteration of the Supreme Court is grossly anti-social in respecting policy that protects threatened communities. Lame duck congressional action aside, it appears that these policies may not see resolution before the end of the year. With the glacial pace of proper legislation that doesn’t pit different segments of the migrant community against one another, the question now is what is being done to offer folks relief?
This is the same query I had two years ago upon concluding 2020. In my mind, there is a similar undertone. Two years have elapsed, and it still feels that we are collectively preoccupied with the electoral apparatus. As important as that is, our communities deserve to have their needs centered. Let’s make it happen.
Oscar Rosales grew up in the Yakima Valley and works and resides in Seattle.
Read more of the Dec. 28, 2022-Jan. 3, 2023 issue.