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Anti-immigrant hysteria ignores gun suppliers' role in migration

In the political debate over migration to the U.S. and its causes, American gun suppliers' role is too often ignored.


Title 42, the controversial policy enacted during the Trump administration to stem immigration during the pandemic, is officially ending this week

Many political figures, both Democrats and Republicans, are fearmongering over what this means for American society, effectively echoing dehumanizing, warlike rhetoric that's been used to describe migrants approaching the southern border. 

Sentiment like this rests on a decidedly racist idea: that non-Americans are approaching the southern border intent on conquering the nation and claiming it as their own to the exclusion of all others. And this racist framing conveniently ignores the role American industry has played in forcing people to flee their homelands in the first place. 

Specifically, the gun industry. 

Last year, I wrote a post referring to numerous reports that indicate American-made guns have been transported to countries in the southwest hemisphere at an alarmingly high rate over the last decade, which has helped fuel violence in places like Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. 

A combination of lax gun laws and an infatuation with firearms have helped make American guns — and the violence they wreak — into a major U.S. export. Yet, migrants from these areas are so often met with American politicians framing them as evildoers and ne’er-do-wells rather than victims of American capitalism.

It's not all that different from the way Black and brown people and communities stricken with gun violence are treated inside the U.S.: maligned, overpoliced and met with scorn — if not brute force — when they venture into spaces where they're unwanted.

The U.S. role in spurring global migration often takes a backseat in political debates over immigration policy, which partly explains why some people discuss the provision of foreign aid — which countries could theoretically use to improve their living conditions — as a way to stem migration. But without solving the issue of widespread, international gun proliferation stemming from the U.S., it’s hard to imagine an end to much of the violence.

I’ve seen no sign that meaningful federal gun legislation is on the horizon. And I’ve also seen no sign lawmakers are interested in funding foreign aid at the level necessary to curb mass migration. 

Instead, conservative-leaning lawmakers driving the immigration debate seem more invested in crueler, blunter tools.  

We hear predictable talk about building walls, and tightening visa restrictions, and increasing deportations, but little — if anything at all — about how America’s gun obsession has helped fuel migration.