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La Opinion: Stop Xenophobia

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Xenophobia against immigrants is growing. The fear of change shared by a sector of the population and resentment against foreigners – who are blamed for all our ills – are increasing thanks to the incendiary discourse spouted by irresponsible demagogues deserving of everyone’s repudiation.

The Republican primary is the pyre where immigrants were thrown by Donald Trump when he accused Mexicans who come to the U.S. of being rapists and killers.

This hateful rhetoric fits the mentality of the Party’s base, which for years have been told by Congress that immigrants steal their jobs, are to blame for low wages and suck social services dry, among other lies. Conservatives find it convenient to use immigrants as scapegoats to explain the country’s financial woes rather than criticize their own economic and taxation policies, the real culprits of the low salaries and the deficit.

The intensity of Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and the airtime granted to him by the media for being newsworthy, and for lack of a political rival capable of questioning the mogul’s lies out loud, makes his message resonate among xenophobes. The attack on a Mexican homeless man by individuals who justified their act of violence with Trump’s discourse, and the appearance of graffiti with anti-immigrant messages, are only examples of the impact of this man’s discourse.

Simultaneously, in Europe, xenophobia has gained strength due to the massive displacement of people coming from Syria seeking refuge. A feeling of instability is combined with prejudice, racism ad tribalism found in the Old Continent, where immigrants are seen as a threat to the European way of life. The reality is that they actually represent a vital generational reinforcement for the countries’ labor force. The impact is similar to its equivalent here in the U.S.

We need to say “enough” to those who, like Trump, stake their political future on anti-immigrant hatred; those who cater to racists with their language, encouraging violent people and confirming the logic of the ignorant. Once and for all, xenophobia must be condemned, and with it the people who espouse it and the cowards who allow the discourse of hate to dominate the public discussion.

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