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Opinion | The vilification and treatment of migrants is disgusting

We all know it’s a political stunt to trick migrants into flying to other cities. That doesn’t make it OK, or anything less than deplorable.

5th Congressional District Republican candidate Dale Strong.

Dale Strong seems to be confused. 

That’s happening a lot lately, as Strong – a moderate Republican during his time leading the moderately conservative Madison County Commission – seeks to establish himself as a “true Republican,” which in today’s political climate means a person willing to say awful and untrue things in the hopes of getting a Fox News interview. 

As such, last week, during a radio interview, Strong took the opportunity to say some really awful and untrue things about migrant workers and the dehumanizing publicity stunts pulled by red state governors who decided to use desperate humans as political pawns and trick the migrants into flying to blue states. 

Now, ordinarily, I wouldn’t give Strong’s comments the attention he so desperately wants. And I also know full well that the awful spectacle of flying desperate, confused people to another state, as sick as it is, is nothing more than a political stunt designed to shift the national attention away from the abortion issue – where Republicans are losing bigly – and onto a tried and true scare tactic in every election season: “the migrant caravans of rapists and murderers with candy-shaped fentanyl for your children are coming!” 

But in this particular case, Strong provides an opportunity to correct a few prevalent misconceptions about this whole migrant flying/busing thing and the subsequent outrage from the “left.” 

Let’s first start with Strong’s comment in support of what Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have done – which was to trick migrants, who are in this country legally, into boarding a plane/bus with the promise of jobs or help, only to leave them stranded in a different U.S. city without any sort of assistance or shelter. 

There seems to be this idea out there that “liberals” and others are outraged by this because now the migrants are in their towns. 

If you believe that – and I really cannot stress this enough – you are an uncaring imbecile who lacks basic compassion for others. 

If that sounds harsh, good. That’s how it was intended. 

No one is angry because of where the migrants were taken. We’re pissed because you used other human beings in a political stunt. 

What is wrong with y’all? How on earth could you be OK with dumping desperate people like this? With using them in a political stunt? With preying upon their situations and treating them as lepers? 

Most of these people are braver than any one of us could ever hope to be. They embody everything that America is supposed to support and welcome. 

They saw likely death and suffering for their families in their home countries – likely a communist country – so they made the unbearable decision to pack what they could carry on their backs and march thousands of miles with their children to the shining beacon on the hill. They arrived at our border and did the lawful thing – presented themselves as refugees seeking asylum. 

And in return, a guy named DeSantis, which I’m fairly certain is not an old Native American name, decided we could make boogeymen out of them for simply trying to survive and do what’s best for their families. 

It’s disgusting. 

But it doesn’t stop there. Strong – and the larger conservative rhetoric – also has a couple of other things wrong: First, their insistence that immigrants are a drain on taxpayers and federal or local economies, and second, this very vague insinuation that migrants are responsible in some way for the uptick in heroin and fentanyl coming into the country. 

I’m not going to waste a lot of time on the first one, because we all went through Alabama’s idiotic immigrant purge in 2011. We learned then that the facts – that immigrants, undocumented or legal, pay billions in taxes and are actually huge economic positives to most towns where they live – are true. 

One year of reduction in the immigrant workforce in Alabama resulted in billions of dollars of loss for the state. There were literally crops rotting in the fields and businesses shutting down. Far from being a drain on Alabama towns, we learned real quick-like that immigrant labor was the lifeblood of our state and local economies, helping to prop up pretty much every social service we offer. 

Guess what? That’s true everywhere.   

Overall, according to various studies, immigrants contribute hundreds of billions in tax dollars each year and take in less than $10 billion in “welfare” benefits. Undocumented workers accounted for at least $12 billion in taxes in 2020 and received virtually nothing from social services. Mexican immigrants have a near 98 percent employment rate. They earned more than $80 billion in 2019, most of which went back into local businesses, helping support their communities and more than paying for their use of public services. 

And they’re not getting their money from transporting illegal drugs. 

As the Border Patrol, DEA and numerous law enforcement officials have stated repeatedly, the chances that migrants who come to this country seeking asylum are smuggling drugs is virtually zero. Almost all of it comes through official ports of entry, smuggled in cars and boats and various other means. 

So, congrats to Strong and other Republicans, you’ve just vilified a whole group of people because you’re either not smart enough to understand basic facts or you’re so racist you’ve decided all Hispanic people must be drug smugglers. 

But then, that’s the goal isn’t it – undue vilification? Take a group of people whose skin color is a bit darker, whose language is different, whose backgrounds are bit more mysterious to your everyday American, and present them all as dangerous, scary, resource-sucking moochers who are probably drug smugglers, rapists and murderers. All with the goal of scaring white people to the polls. 

Every single one of you know it’s wrong. Everything from the Bible to common sense tells you so. And I honestly don’t know how you live with yourselves.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at jmoon@alreporter.com or follow him on Twitter.

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