As much as I try not to dwell on national politics in D.C., given the clownish nature of congressional action, I think it is important to understand some of the policy stances that have bubbled up to the surface. These stances certainly reflect the current edifice of global concerns, namely war in Palestine and in Ukraine. The funding of perpetual war is one project that requires congressional intervention.
In the context of a “musical chairs” approach to selecting a new speaker of the house, this process is taking yon et another dimension, as the “specter” of immigration is being used to entice conservatives to pass funding for those proxy wars. The use of immigration as a key bargaining chip is nothing new. In fact, this has been an ongoing issue that has devolved into dehumanizing stunts. You may recall the coerced bussing of migrants north from Texas and Florida over the summer, in addition to Texas being sued by the federal government for deploying floating barricades on an international waterway.
A little over a week ago, The Washington Post reported that the Biden Administration initiated the use of “Deportation Flights,” which were deemed as part of “crucial step forward” for reducing the number of migrants venturing north from Venezuela. Immigration and Customs Enforcement noted that these flights are meant to “enforce United States immigration laws while strengthening the consequences for those who cross our border unlawfully.” This was a timed political gambit in anticipation of the requests for new funding for the proxy conflicts.
For as much rhetoric around stemming immigration flow as there is, little attention is placed on why people migrate. The push factors that impact Venezuela are a window into failed hemispheric policy. The reelection of Nicolás Maduro in 2019 prompted President Trump to enforce steep sanctions against Venezuela. This was followed in 2020 by the U.S. government showing its support of an attempted coup by Juan Guaidó, Maduro’s political opponent, by declaring Guaidó interim president. Venezuelan opposition parties stripped him of this designation in late 2022 after the failure of the coup.
It goes without saying that these conditions made life difficult for many Venezuelans, prompting increased migration north. Additionally, tensions between D.C. and the Venezuelan government in Caracas have been high since at least 2002, which saw the failure of yet another U.S.-supported coup d’état against then-President Hugo Chávez. This 20-plus-year history also explains the larger demographic shift in recent years, as Venezuelans are the fastest-growing Latine national origin group in the U.S., per the most recent census.
Migrants deserve better than being situated as pawns for proxy warfare. Political bipartisanship is denying people their human dignity.
Read more of the Oct. 25-31, 2023 issue.