Two seemingly conflicting messages have come from the Republican Party, which controls the U.S. House of Representatives. One is that the House was instrumental in pushing through legislation that bars presidents from unilaterally withdrawing from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The significance in that move is that the legislation is obviously directed at former President Donald Trump, the party’s leader, who had given strong signals, during his term in the White House which ended in 2020, that he wanted to pull out of NATO and he has not given up on that plan. It also was a victory for President Joe Biden, who is pursuing a policy of strongest possible ties to the military grouping of 31 states.

But the House also put the brakes on Biden’s request for a $110 billion aid package that includes $61.4 billion for Ukraine. Republican lawmakers blocked passage of the bill because of their determination to force Biden to commit to substantial crackdown on illegal immigration than the $14 billion provided in the aid package would allow.

It would seem contradictory that Republicans would put aid to Ukraine on a lower level than immigration after affirming their commitment to NATO membership. The rationale for Biden’s backing of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion is that the United States has a national security interest in victory by Ukraine for geopolitical reasons. Russia’s President Vladimir Putting will almost certainly invade neighboring countries if he wins. That would inevitably pull the United States into a war in Europe because the NATO treaty requires all members to go to the aid of any member that is attacked. That is not the case yet because Ukraine is not a member of the alliance. Therefore, playing politics with Ukraine aid runs counter to commitment to NATO.

But these are not normal or rational times, and it is no surprise that “border security” is being catapulted to the top of the Republican presidential campaign agenda by Trump and his allies in Congress and elsewhere. It is the one issue that they can promote to hopefully offset the political damage which they suffered with the ending of a federal right to abortions by a U.S. Supreme Court to which Trump appointed three Justices for just such a purpose.

Trump has become even more hawkish towards migrants, whom he accuses of “poisoning the blood of our country,” a comment he has made more than once, and has pledged to “root out… vermin” and political foes. Such remarks led HuffPost to say that the former president “echoed the likes of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.”

On Saturday, Trump said at a campaign stop in Durham, New Hampshire, “They poison mental institutions and prisons all over the world, not just in South America . . . but all over the world. . . . They’re coming into our country, from Africa, from Asia, all over the world. They’re pouring into our country. Nobody is even looking at them, they just come in and the crime is going to be tremendous, the terrorism is going to be.” Why he meant by “poison mental institutions and prisons” only he knows.

Tough immigration policies have always played well with those European Americans who have been led to believe that refugees and other migrants pose an existential threat because it could after the demographic composition of the nation — and they are right. They will comprise 47 percent of the population by 2020, compared with 65 percent in 2005. That reality worsens the fears of those who worry about the “replacement theory” that non-European Americans would take over the country. It also explains why several states, especially in the South, have rigged their electoral systems to keep European Americans in control for the foreseeable future, especially through the undemocratic Electoral College.

But the United States is not alone in having to face the dilemma of portraying itself as a democratic, compassionate nation while having to cope with a tsunami of foreigners seeking asylum or just wanting an opportunity to improve their lives in a land of opportunity. It is happening all over Europe and is being met by increasingly draconian responses, including in Britain which is pushing a heartless policy of shipping refugees to Rwanda on a permanent basis.

As has been stated previously, none of this should be a surprise, although the current crop of leaders is making it appear that it is and that their countries cannot cope with the influx of so many human beings who arrive at their borders pleading for asylum. As far as Europe is concerned, what is being witnessed is the long-delayed reaction to hundreds of years of vicious colonialism and harsh occupation that ended with most of the former colonies destabilized, their traditional societies ruined and dictators in charge.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that refugees worldwide number 35.3 million, 62.5 million people have been displaced internally and 5.4 million are seeking asylum. The Missing Migrants Project, an arm of the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that 59,290 men, women and children have died or disappeared since 2014 while fleeing their countries to see asylum elsewhere.

In the United States, the Republicans – and some Democrats – see the hundreds of thousands who try to enter through the southern border as an invasion without acknowledging the devastation which American intervention wreaked in the hemisphere while trying to contain Communism. That intervention left conditions that drive men, women and children to undertake perilous journeys through hundreds of miles of treacherous terrain for a chance to be the latest “barbarians” given an opportunity to enter through gates of the empire.

“Enabled by social media and Colombian organized crime, more than 506,000 migrants — nearly two-thirds Venezuelans — had crossed the Darian jungle by mid-December, double the 248,000 who set a record the previous year. Before last year, the record was barely 30,000 in 2016,” the Associated Press reported, referring to the territory between Colombia and Panama which has become a “speedy but still treacherous highway” on the quest for a better life.

As Christmas, a time of goodwill, is being celebrated, it will be good to pause a moment to reflect on those who are less fortunate, rather than demonizing them, and the role which the U.S. and other developed nations have played in creating the conditions that have made it impossible for one in every 74 people on Earth, according to the UN, to live in his or her native land and risk major perils, including death, in a quest for refuge elsewhere.

And would be good to ponder also on what the situation would have been if the Indigenous peoples had greeted the refugees fleeing religious persecution in Britain had greeted them in the same way that their descendants are dealing with today’s refugees.