LOS VERDE VALLAS, NEW MEXICO — Roberto Inmigrante has been a resident of his sleepy New Mexico town since late 2008. Inmigrante came to the United States legally, he says, making sure all of his visa applications were in order, and he waited to be screened for any ties to terrorist activity. Inmigrante says he does not “begrudge anyone” who comes to the United States without following all the rules like he did, however, because as he says, “life is pretty shitty in other countries, so it’s kind of a compliment to the U.S. that people are so desperate to get in.”
Inmigrante says that thus far, the 2016 election has been a “mixed bag” for him. Initially, he said he enjoyed the extra attention that people like Donald Trump were putting on the immigration issue, even when Trump made tremendously disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants like Roberto being mostly made up of rapists, drug dealers and killers. Roberto said that as much as he finds Trump’s rhetoric “disgusting and unhelpful,” he was at least glad to be recognized by a Republican “without having to serve them a drink or bus their table,” Inmigrante said.
But since the terrorist attack in Paris, France a couple of weeks ago, Inmigrante says that the new focus of the GOP’s presidential candidates on being anti-refugee instead of anti-immigrant are leaving him feeling “a little left out,” in his words. Roberto said that “it was nice to have some discussions about people like [him] happening, even if they were totally ignorance and hate filled,” but the shift in focus from immigrants to refugees from war-torn Syria has “once again made Hispanics almost invisible to Republicans.”
“I would just like, if nothing else,” Roberto said, “for the GOP to do a little multi-tasking. Why can’t they just bash Hispanics and refugees at the same time? We know they fear us equally, so why can’t they put us all in their xenophobic rhetoric,” Roberto asked rhetorically. “Net immigration from Mexico has been statistically zero for years, and not a single refugee has ever committed a terror attack on U.S. soil,” Inmigrante told our interviewer, “both of which are facts that Republicans ignore separately, so why can’t they ignore them together, is all I’m asking.”
According to Mr. Inmigrante, he can make a very conservative argument for lumping refugees and immigrants together — efficiency.
“Aren’t conservatives the ones who are into conservation of resources and energy,” he asked, adding, “because you can really kill two paranoid, delusional fever-dream level bits of rhetoric with one stone by ginning up fear against everyone who isn’t white. I mean, really, it’s not that hard. Just imply that terrorists can come in with undocumented workers from Mexico and hidden among refugees. Even though there’s never been an attack perpetrated on U.S. soil by people who came here by either of those means, that won’t stop scared, white folks from believing it will happen one day if we don’t electrify a massive fence around our border and send refugees packing to the hell holes they just left.”
In the end, Inmigrante said, he’s not looking to raise a big fuss over feeling excluded from Republican rhetoric, just awareness. “I’m not pushy about it. I just want to be hated out of irrational fears equally, because I guess that’s what America’s all about,” Roberto said, “at least to Republicans.”