tags: Press Releases

Even After the Horrors of the El Paso Massacre, the Dangerous Descent of Texas Republicans on Immigration Continues

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The New Yorker Magazine and Congressional Delegation Document the Descent of the GOP

Washington, DC – Yesterday, several Members of Congress traveled to Eagle Pass, Texas as part of a congressional delegation to explore the dehumanizing dangers inflicted by Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star. The images and videos of the razor wires, saw blades, and buoy barriers deployed by Governor Abbott make visceral the dangers and intent to harm.

  • Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) stated, “Everyone needs to see what I saw in Eagle Pass today. Clothing stuck on razor wire where families got trapped. Chainsaw devices in the middle of buoys. Land seized from US citizens. Operation Lone Star is barbaric — and @GovAbbott  is making border communities collateral damage.” See the accompanying video here.
  • Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) hit similar themes, noting: “Appalled by the ongoing cruel and inhumane tactics employed by @GovAbbott at the Texas border. The situation’s reality is unsettling as these buoys’ true danger and brutality come to light. We must stop this NOW!”

In a powerful article in The New Yorker, “The Legacy of the El Paso Shooting,” Stephania Taladrid highlights how we’ve arrived at this dangerous moment and the continued descent of Texas Republicans on immigration – even after the horrors of the El Paso shooting four years ago should have forced a reckoning about the dangers associated with dehumanizing migrants.

According to Zachary Mueller, America’s Voice Political Director:

“The intentionally deadly saw blade-laced buoy water wall that Governor Abbott flagrantly – and illegally – erected in the Rio Grande is the horrific policy manifestation of the cruelty Olympics Republicans are engaged in; a competition to see who can be crueler while adopting the absurdly false white nationalist conspiracy theories about a hostile migrant invasion of the United States. When elected leaders like Gov. Abbott dehumanize migrants, falsely making them out to be an existential threat, they court violence because the way you stop ‘invaders,’ is with deadly force. Gov. Abbott knows he does not have the legal authority to deploy the deadly buoys, block waterways or change the international boundary, yet he is following through with his plan. His embrace of the white nationalist and antisemitic great replacement theory is appalling, and his intentionally deadly water wall is the vehicle he is using to weaponize the conspiracy to take on the federal government and ‘own the libs.’ He has chosen headlines over humans.

The entire New Yorker article is worth reading, but we highlight key excerpts below, including the reference to America’s Voice ongoing tracking work:

“‘We need to continue to talk about the reasons why the attack happened,’ Fernando Garcia, a local activist who leads the Border Network for Human Rights, said. ‘Though there was a sentencing, it still doesn’t address the issues of hate, xenophobia, and racism that permeate every political aspect of our society.’

In the aftermath of the massacre, police found a manifesto written by the gunman; it cast his actions as ‘a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.’ Citing the Great Replacement Theory, the gunman claimed to be ‘defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.’ … For years, the Great Replacement Theory has permeated white nationalist groups around the world, fuelled by conservative personalities in the media and politics. 

…’Once words go into the atmosphere, you never know who’s going to grab them,’ Michael Grady, a pastor in El Paso, said of the shooter. ‘He simply listened to the rhetoric that came from the highest levels of leadership in the nation.’ Grady, whose daughter Michelle was gravely injured in the shooting, felt that there was a disconnect between the promises made to El Pasoans then and the reality on the ground today. 

… The rhetoric that inspired the gunman in El Paso hasn’t lost its prominence. Last Thursday, to mark the fourth anniversary of the shooting, Fernando Garcia, of the Border Network for Human Rights, organized a procession to the Walmart with relatives of the victims. The event, ‘A Call to Action Against White Supremacy, Racism and Xenophobia,’ was representative of the concern over the present political discourse. ‘Today’s reflection,” Garcia said of the anniversary, “is that we are probably worse than before.’ 

Last November, days after the midterm elections, Governor Abbott issued a letter to the heads of the Texas National Guard and the state police titled ‘Defend Texas Against Invasion,’ detailing their obligation to ‘keep Texans and Americans safe and protect against an invasion of the southern border.’ On the day the sentencing hearing began, the lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, drew a comparison on Fox News between the border and Pearl Harbor, claiming that ‘this is an invasion.’

As the Presidential campaign gains steam, these types of assertions are likely to spread and become more provocative. On the anniversary of the El Paso shooting, more than a hundred and fifty civic organizations signed a letter to Congress, stating that several of its members have touted claims made by white supremacists ‘who use immigrants and minority populations as pawns in a nefarious plot.’ One of the organizations, America’s Voice, has identified thirty-four members of Congress who amplified the ‘invasion’ rhetoric. In more than seven hundred instances, the group found, Republicans cited white-supremacist ideas during the midterm elections. And the two top candidates vying for the Party’s nomination, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, have declared, respectively, that migrants are coming ‘by the millions’ and that it’s crucial to ‘stop the invasion.’

Last week, Pastor Grady joined other families in a procession to Walmart. Like many of the participants, he carried a tall black cross, inscribed with the name of a victim … He spoke of Abbott’s recent decision to install a buoy barrier along the Rio Grande and the allegations that state troopers had pushed people, including children, back into the river. In Grady’s view, ‘All of that simply says, ‘If August 3rd didn’t work, let’s try this.’”