On Trump’s Vicious Immigration Rhetoric and Policies

How do Mexicans protest? With humanitarian demonstrations, or law-and-order demonstrations? It is harder to offer human aid in Mexico than harsh cruelty. The government looks down on any extension of charity to migrants. Still, along the way, in many of the towns where the train stops, local people of little means gather along the tracks with tortillas and bread and fruit and water. American expats sometimes join them.

Some of the unwounded make it all the way to the border, where they are denied entry by the U.S. and pushed into Tijuana to live in COVID-breeding dumps—they can’t go home, or they will be killed. They can’t go forward, because they know what awaits their babies.

This is all in response to our administration’s actions and rhetoric. As are the Tijuana MAGA hats—MTGA, I suppose.

The Otero County Prison Facility in Chaparral, New Mexico
The private Otero County Prison Facility, in Chaparral, New Mexico, is one location where ICE detainees are incarcerated. (Philip Montgomery)

Meanwhile, the glorious Klondike of graft known as the border wall stumbles along, creating tens of miles of multimillion-dollar yard art. In the past few months, ICE and Border Patrol agents have been redeployed as Trump’s secret police, the shock troops sent to protests in American cities, driving unmarked vehicles to collect dissidents. Either the current government of the United States does not care about the “waves” of people invading the country, or the border may not be under siege after all.

Still, it is worth looking south as the U.S. presidential election nears—to those brown lands that have law-and-order forces even more ironfisted than our president dares to be. Yet.

The thunder lizards of any shithole country Trump has insulted have an equal lust for lucre and power. They too look south to conjure “others”—why do they always look south, at poorer, more tattered countries than their own? But they also look within, persecuting “others” in their own lands, even those who look just like them but are insufficiently subservient or merely inconvenient. Like we are starting to do with the antifa kids. Or with the Black Lives Matter protesters, those mothers who need to be pepper-sprayed for standing on the street.

Before he left Mexico, my father faced a crisis of political faith, and this led to his exile from Mexico’s power machine. He was given an order he could not, in good conscience, carry out. But he was still a conservative. He still believed in order. The San Diego suburbs where we finally landed made him comfortable and ruined him. He was now just a bowling-alley custodian, not a power broker with a black car and a Harley and a long military coat. He became the dad of a Bob Dylan fan. And he had to watch, in 1968, on our new color TV, how his beloved government massacred kids like me in Tlatelolco for protesting during the Olympics and embarrassing the mighty men in the presidential palace. He could no longer take refuge in the belief that the system was righteous, despite those leaders who strayed. He saw American conservatism as a last bastion of hope. But he would have finally lost that hope under Trump. He would have recognized the darkness too well.