Troopers at the southern border under Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star scheme have allegedly “been ordered to push small children and nursing babies back into the Rio Grande, and have been told not to give water to asylum seekers even in extreme heat,” Houston Chronicle reported. In one horrific incident detailed in the report, troopers pushed a four-year-old girl back into Mexico amid the searing heat hitting the region. The child subsequently “passed out from exhaustion.” Texas has also installed a deadly system of buoys and razor wiring that increases the likelihood of drowning.
Some troops reportedly expressed concerns about the orders to their superiors, showing more humanity, decency and understanding of what it means to be an American than Texas’ governor. To his credit, Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) tweeted that he found it “disturbing for anyone, much less a child, to be deprived of water in 100-degree weather, regardless of their immigration status.” But these reported abuses happened along Gonzales’ district, and it’s unclear if he’s done more than just tweet.
Here are three questions Rep. Tony Gonzales must answer:
- Does Gonzales support the draconian practice of pushing children into a deadly river? And if not, what is he going to concretely do about it? What investigation, what legislation, anything more than some tweets?
- Will Gonzales buck the extremists in his party and actually work towards solutions to reform our broken and out-of-date immigration system? Or will he continue to be all talk and no action?
- Will Gonzales commit to calling out his fellow Republican members when they employ dehumanizing white nationalist rhetoric about migrants?
While Gonzales has previously challenged his party for choosing politics over solutions, when push came to shove, he was a critical vote in ensuring the passage of H.B. 2, also known as the Child Deportation Act, this past May. His Republican colleagues promoted the bill with white nationalist conspiracy theories about “replacement” and “invasion” that have inspired multiple domestic terrorist attacks. The following month, Gonzales again joined extremists and voted for two resolutions further advancing racist conspiracy theories and paranoia targeted at immigration and immigrants.
As we’ve previously noted, we’re now seeing the consequences of dehumanizing rhetoric play out, where even babies and children are treated as less than human. While publicly expressing disapproval is a start, it’s the bare minimum in light of such horrific reports. Will Gonzales do more to challenge his state’s leadership, or be complicit in the abuses of some of the most vulnerable arriving to our border in search of asylum?