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Leaders Vociferously Condemn Texas Gov. Abbott’s Latest Dehumanizing and Violent Remarks About “Shooting” Migrant Families

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Leaders and advocates in Texas and across the country are blasting Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s apparent lament that the state can’t shoot migrants on sight at the border. Yes, he really said that.

In shocking remarks initially reported by Heartland Signal, Abbott complained to right-wing activist and former NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch that the “only thing” Texas isn’t doing is “shooting people who come across the border because of course, the Biden administration would charge us with murder.”

Let’s just make sure we’re making clear what Abbott is saying here: Texas has held back from carrying out extrajudicial killings of asylum seekers and other migrants at the southern border not because it’s wrong and would be murder, but because the Biden administration might try to hold them accountable. As Steve Benen noted for MSNBC:

It’s a difficult position to defend, though there’s a related question hanging overhead: If there were, say, a different president in the White House — an anti-immigrant reactionary, for example, whose rhetoric on immigration literally echoes Adolf Hitler — would Abbott have fewer concerns about possible federal criminal charges? Might he be more willing to take repulsive steps in 2025 that he’s reluctant to take now? 

Abbott’s anti-immigrant policies, like the ineffective Operation Lone Star scheme, have already shown a blatant disregard for the humanity, civil rights, and dignity of people seeking safety in our nation. But his remark this week represents one of the most horrific and dangerous lows yet.

“The ‘only thing we’re not doing is shooting people’ crossing the border because ‘the Biden Administration would charge us with murder,’” tweeted Texas Rep. Marc Veasey. “This is a REAL sentence from Texas’ @GovAbbott. Texas deserves better than these disgusting, fearmongering tactics.”

“This is hateful, dangerous, sick rhetoric from a sitting governor @GovAbbott in the United States of America,” said Texas Rep, Joaquin Castro. “These are desperate men, women and children seeking asylum in America — just as people from Europe and every part of the world have done for generations.” Shooting migrants “WOULD BE MURDER” an exasperated Rep. Greg Casar wrote in his all caps tweet.

“This dangerous dehumanization of immigrants has got to stop,” tweeted California Rep. Adam Schiff. “Is there no bottom to the GOP’s willingness to glorify violence against people seeking a better life? Have they forgotten all the contributions immigrants have made for centuries? Have they no shame, no compassion, nothing left but hate?”

“Abbott has been previously criticized for his rhetoric on immigration,” The Texas Tribune continued, noting an incident in 2019 where Abbott sent out an anti-immigrant mailer just one day before a racist mass gunman who complained about a so-called “Hispanic invasion” of Texas murdered 23 people at an El Paso Walmart. This mailer, sent out in Abbott’s name, told residents in the first sentence that “if we’re going to defend Texas, we’ll need to take matters into our own hands.” After blowback, Abbott issued a half-apology claiming “mistakes were made.” Yet Abbott has continued using “invasion” rhetoric even after the shootings of Texas migrants.

“I can’t believe I have to say ‘murdering people is unacceptable’ @GregAbbott_TX,” tweeted Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar. “It’s language like yours that left 23 people dead and 22 others injured in El Paso.” In a statement, Brenda Victoria Castillo, President & CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, warned of the dangerous consequences of this type of language, especially after El Paso. “Governor Abbott’s words serve as a green light for violence against a vulnerable population and fan the flames of hostility towards immigrants, particularly Latinos,” she said. 

“Governor Abbott’s comments are appalling, disturbing, and revealing — he would condone the killing of innocent families, including women and children, as the cruelest form of deterring migration,” tweeted Texas Civil Rights Project President Rochelle Garza. “People seeking safety deserve respect and basic dignity, they should not face the fear of being killed for believing the U.S can provide a life of safety.”

“In his words and his actions, Gov. Abbott and his allies are fostering a dangerous climate that stokes a climate of suspicion, fear, and potential violence against families that look like mine, much like already happened in my hometown of El Paso,” said America’s Voice Campaigns Manager Mario Carrillo. “And they are purposefully encouraging more chaos through political stunts that treat immigrants like pawns while undermining efforts to provide comfort and safety to people fleeing danger. I can only hope Abbott’s latest descent will not lead to more real world violence, like it did in El Paso.”