Republicans of the #MAGA Cult were amused and downright giddy after Florida’s horrible governor tried to out-Trump Trump by flying 50 unsuspecting immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard to “own the libs.” It was a cruel act, and yet the #MAGA thinks the Ron DeSantis Airlift made a damning point about the Biden administration’s immigration and border policy.
Again, the #MAGA and their provocateurs in right-wing media miss or ignore the stark dishonesty and short-sightedness of Trumpism, making them a party, in this case, to a cynical political prank.
All of this — from the treatment of human beings as political objects to the constant reference to them as “illegals” — serves to send a strong anti-immigrant message.
Republicans will say they support immigration, as long as people from Central America enter the country through the channels established by law. But the Trump era represented a new hard line on immigrants: Refusing to work with Congress to reform national immigration policy; separating children from their families; demanding that asylum-seekers remain in dangerous conditions in Mexico while their applications are processed; betraying the DACA Dreamers; establishing a public charge test to refuse immigrants from what Trump called “shithole countries.” Numerous investigations by the press demonstrated that Trump adviser and white supremacist Stephen Miller pushed aggressive policies at the border less we face “the end of our country as we know it.”
All of this amounts to a strong anti-immigrant posture. That’s what the right wants. If too many Black and brown people enter the country and eventually reach a path to citizenship, it would be the end of the country’s white power structure. That’s what the #MAGA GOP fears. That was Miller’s point.
Not only is that approach appalling and racist, it’s self-defeating for the U.S. We do not have enough workers to fill all of the nation’s job openings, particularly in public education, health care and the leisure and hospitality industries. This was true even before the pandemic. Economists warned Trump that the country would never reach 4% annual growth without a new influx of immigrants. During Biden’s time in office, the nation has recouped some 20 million jobs, but The Washington Post reports severe worker shortages: We have 11 million job openings and only 6 million unemployed workers.
Hospitality and leisure are down 1.2 million jobs; public schools are missing 360,000 workers; health care has 37,000 openings and rail transportation is down 12,500 jobs since the pandemic. People are burning out and retiring early, and the country was already facing workforce challenges with the retirement of the baby boomers.
So, the #MAGA might think that Republican governors flying immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard — or busing them out of Texas and Arizona to the East Coast — is good for laughs. While intended to slap the Biden administration, it actually slaps Republicans with another layer of ugly nationalism and racism, and amplifies the message that immigrants are not wanted here even as we struggle to fill job openings.