Despite being handed a resounding court ruling against one of his anti-immigrant policies just a couple of weeks ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is expanding his concertina border fencing – into the United States. Yup, you read that right. Abbott has ordered Texas National Guard troops to install miles of concertina wiring along the state’s border with New Mexico, claiming the fencing is needed to block unlawful crossings into El Paso.
“The Texas Military Department said the newly installed razor wired north of Downtown El Paso across from New Mexico’s Sunland Park builds in the 18 miles of concertina wire the National Guard has laid on El Paso’s border with Mexico,” El Paso Times reported. The Texas Military Department said in an unsigned statement that the concertina wiring was “fortifying” the region.
But as we’ve seen time and time again, Abbott’s border schemes have in reality been wildly ineffective (along with being wildly cruel and expensive). In a joint statement, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa and Democratic Party of New Mexico Chair Jessica Velasquez denounced the plan, saying it “will result in environmental damage, community division and injuries of vulnerable migrants.” Abbott, they said, is only “adding more fuel to Operation Lone Star’s dumpster fire.”
“New Mexico has some of the most humane, people-oriented immigration laws in the country. New Mexico Democratic leaders believe that everyone who comes to our country in pursuit of a better life, as an asylum-seeker or otherwise, deserves just and humane treatment, and the laws of New Mexico reflect those values.”
“Greg Abbott knows that New Mexican neighbors are not the enemy,” Hinojosa and Velasquez continued, “but is working overtime to gain Fox News airtime to cover up his proposed legislation to implement unpopular school voucher scams, imprison vulnerable migrants and their families, and his own Party’s public infighting.”
It was just last month that a judge in Texas ordered Abbott to remove his dangerous and inhumane floating saw blade barrier from the Rio Grande, “concluding that it was an impediment to navigation on the river and a ‘threat to human life,’” The New York Times reported. The barrier had been installed as part of his multi-billion dollar border operation proclaiming to trump federal immigration policy, a false belief that was swiftly rebuked in court after the federal government sued.
But Abbott knows his anti-immigrant judicial pipeline – a pathway of favorable judges and courts who regularly side with conservatives all the way to the conservative Supreme Court – can still produce dividends despite what was in his eyes a pesky little court ruling. Gov. Abbott appealed to the conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, where he got his much more favorable ruling keeping the barrier in place for now. Make no mistake – Abbott wants to fight all the way to the Supreme Court so that anti-immigrant governors all over the nation also have the power to enact their own immigration policies in defiance of federal authority. Abbott is also currently demanding that state lawmakers pass a series of proposals that will only widen his anti-immigrant campaign.
“Shame on Greg Abbott for using public tax dollars to uplift his dangerous approach to border security, and infringing upon Texans’ and New Mexicans’ right to move freely across state lines,” Hinojosa and Velasquez said. “Texas and New Mexico Democrats condemn Abbott’s razor wire fencing along our state borders, and call for its removal effective immediately.” New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s spokesperson said Abbott should “turn his attention away from a never-ending stream of political stunts and toward working in earnest for the people of the state he was elected to represent,” The Texas Tribune reported.
It wasn’t enough for Abbott to try to wall off vulnerable asylum-seekers and Texas’ most important international trading partner (to great financial loss, by the way). Now he’s also trying to wall off one of his domestic neighbors here too. You have to wonder if Abbott, who touts his toughness, is just going to pretend he’s not in charge here, like he did in court this week.
“In a dispute lodged by migrants challenging Abbott’s 2-year-old ‘Operation Lone Star’ initiative, Abbott said the migrants couldn’t sue him because he didn’t have any power to enforce the initiative,” Law360 reported. “Rather, it was the state’s peace officers who had the authority to arrest immigrants suspected of criminal trespass under the operation, he said.” Pulease.