Friday, April 6, 2018

Honduras and Immigration: An Unfortunate Prediction

Hondurans in this year’s caravan. AP Photo/Felix Marquez
In November 2009 Monthly Review’s blog carried an article by Politics of Immigration co-author David Wilson about the likely impact of the June 2009 coup in Honduras on immigration from that country to the U.S.:

So far the military coup that removed Honduran president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales from office on June 28 hasn’t produced any noticeable increase in immigration from the Central American country — probably because Honduran workers and campesinos are actively organizing against the coup regime and so far have held it in check.  But the situation could change quickly if repression against these grassroots movements increases.  More than a half million people fled to the United States from the region during the 1980s, when the U.S. government was funding rightwing forces during civil conflicts in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.  And people may remember the effects of a very similar coup in Haiti in 1991: the repression that followed the overthrow of President Jean Bertrand Aristide drove tens of thousands of Haitians to undertake the dangerous sea journey to Florida in overloaded boats.

The article went on to discuss the anti-immigrant rants of James DeMint, then a senator from South Carolina and a favorite of the immigration restrictionist Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). DeMint was a strong supporter of the Honduran coup.

If the coup regime manages to hold on to power, Wilson wrote, and refugees start fleeing their country for exile in the United States, we can be sure Senator DeMint and FAIR will be among the first to ask what part of “illegal” these Hondurans don’t understand.

DeMint has passed into relative obscurity, but his co-thinkers now dictate the White House’s immigration policies. And Honduras' coup regime has held on, solidifying its power last November with an electoral victory questioned by international observers but backed by the government of Donald Trump. This week the rightwing media learned from BuzzFeed that hundreds of Hondurans were fleeing their country’s repressive government in a caravan passing through southern Mexico. Trump reacted with tweets and rants that even the corporate media qualified as “unhinged.” Now he’s moving to send National Guard forces to the border to stop what he incoherently called a “journey coming up” in which he apparently thinks “women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before.”

Just as predicted, unfortunately. The names have changed, but the hypocrisy hasn’t.

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