The race for the Republican nomination is on. The gun has sounded and the cameras are rolling. May the best candidate win.
With 15 contenders fighting for the party’s nomination, immigration has been the hot button issue between candidates. In such a packed race, gaining the spotlight on the topic has been difficult and straying from the pack is on the mind of every candidate. Many, in attempts to divorce their views from the competition, have taken to increasingly radical stances.
Immigration, a key issue in the race, has been addressed with a new unapologetic tenacity to shock voters and send the candidate into overnight recognition. The more controversial, the more the pot is stirred, and the more decency is abandoned, the more superior the candidate appears to hard-liners that frequent the Republican voter base.
Immigration, a historically important issue to Republican voters, has driven several nominees to political stardom. These candidates understand the new dynamic of politics. They campaign with the realization that this is a new game and the field in 2016 is undoubtedly filled with new players.
One player, Donald Trump, the goofball brute of the Right, has become an overnight professional. So far, his candidacy has been a roller coaster of shocking oratory and at times a heated battle; where the only rule is to be more merciless than your opponent.
During a campaign speech in June, Trump described Mexican immigration by saying, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” The crowd received this speech with cheers and Trumps’s numbers shot up overnight.
This rhetoric resonates with the fear and anxiety many associate with immigration. Trump’s abandonment of political correctness, if there ever was such a thing, and his intent to hit the issue hard, appeal to a hard-lined voter base. However, this rash generalization of Mexican immigrants is a common and unfortunate misconception.
Not all immigrants are coming here to indulge in criminal behavior and pillage the country, they are seeking a better future that is unavailable where they come from. Aida Rodriguez, an immigrant from Mexico, moved to the United States when she was six. In 2013, according to the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, Aida was awarded a two-year scholarship for $60,000 for her educational success and transferred to the University of Pennsylvania.
These stories are not uncommon, however, they have been ignored by Republican candidates. Instead, other candidates, seeing a growing trend toward the hard-talking immigration rants of Trump, have followed in his footsteps.
Jeb Bush, the kid-brother of former presidential spectacle George W. Bush, has joined in the recent immigrant bludgeon. On the conservative morning radio talk show “Morning in America,” Bush referred to babies born in the United States under birthright citizenship laws as “anchor babies.” His comment instantly broke headlines and later, he attempted to walk back his words by saying that the term was actually meant to describe Asians.
The cultural insensitivity shown by candidates continuously fuels the political discourse on immigration. Often the candidates are praised for their cultural ineptitude and revered for their unyielding approach toward racial minorities.
Trump, in his presidential announcement, assured voters he would build a wall between the United States and Mexico border. “I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me — and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
This irrational stretch of the imagination plays on the fears of Republican voters. It ignores logistical realities and portrays Mexican immigrants as lawless invaders. This rhetoric overlooks immigrants of other racial backgrounds and blurs the line between a campaign speech and blatant fear mongering. These statements are not answers to the immigration problem but instead are cries to rally for racial contempt.
While avoiding a sensible debate these candidates have used immigration to bolster their political aspirations and gain the upper-hand in a competitive race. Immigration is an important issue in America and to move forward it must be addressed with proper decency.
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