Last month on a trip to Guatemala, U.S. vice president Kamala Harris told would-be migrants: “Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our borders. […] If you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
This is just one instance in a long history of harsh and punitive immigration policy and rhetoric coming from the White House. Is this the best we can expect from the Biden–Harris administration when it comes to the future of the U.S. border?
Today, guest host Karma Chávez spends the hour with historian Rachel Ida Buff for a wide-ranging discussion of refuge, asylum, and sanctuary in the United States—both how these values have historically been undermined by xenophobia, white supremacy, and settler colonialism, and where we go from here.
Rachel Buff is a professor of history and director of the Cultures and Communities program at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She is the author of Immigration and the Political Economy of Home: West Indian Brooklyn and American Indian Minneapolis, 1945–1992 (University of California Press, 2001) and Against the Deportation Terror: Organizing for Immigrant Rights in the Twentieth Century (Temple University Press, 2017).
She is co-author (with Evan Taparata) of the recent piece “Refuge: Denied. Asylum: Pending” on Public Books.