Washington, DC – Throughout the year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has engaged in a series of anti-immigrant political stunts designed to burnish his nativist cred with GOP base voters. Locked in a tight race with challenger Beto O’Rourke, Gov. Abbott has not been talking about Texas’ highly restrictive abortion laws, easy access to guns or the failure of the Texas power grid in extreme heat or cold. Rather, he has relied on taxpayer funded stunts like Operation Lone Star – at a $4 billion cost and growing – and busing migrants awaiting their cases in asylum courts to Northern cities with Black Democratic mayors. These stunts are not only dehumanizing and ugly for the migrants, but also wasteful and costly for all Texans and a distraction from real solutions on immigration and border issues. Some recent examples that highlight the costs of Gov. Abbott’s nativism:
- A deep-dive Dallas Morning News report, “Migrants crossing Texas-Mexico border at record levels despite Abbott’s $4B initiative,” underscores the reality that immigration and border policies are complex – and that despite a more than $4 billion price tag, Gov. Abbott’s Operation Lone Star doesn’t seem to be making much of an impact on apprehension numbers.
- Meanwhile, new reports peg the cost of Gov. Abbott’s ongoing busing of migrants from Texas to Democratic controlled cities at more than $12 million and growing. Some have estimated that these bus trips are costing around $2,200 per passenger, as compared to a $360 Greyhound ticket.
According to Mario Carrillo, Texas-based Campaigns Director for America’s Voice:
“Texas taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill for these in-kind donations to shore up Gov. Abbott’s nativist credentials with the GOP base as he runs for Governor and dreams of the White House.
Instead of helping forge immigration solutions that work for Texas and the country, Gov. Abbott’s stunts are costly, ineffective, distracting and dangerous. They’re meant to create headlines and whip up resentment from the MAGA base rather than create good policy or advance the best interests of Texans, let alone immigrants and asylum seekers.
From the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation, to his inability to keep Texans safe from guns or frequent power-outages, Gov. Abbott is selling nativism to the MAGA base and moving Texas in the wrong direction. Texans are tired of Abbott’s tactics and we deserve better.”
The latest reports on the costs of Gov. Abbott’s nativism pile onto earlier evidence, including:
- Truck Inspection Stunt: Billion Dollars Incurred, Zero Drugs Found: In April, Gov. Abbott ordered Texas state troopers to inspect every commercial truck traveling from Mexico – which he claimed was designed to combat drugs. Yet troopers found “zero drugs, weapons or any other type of contraband.” As NPR reported, the redundant truck inspections, “inflicted billions of dollars in U.S. trade losses — including $1 billion per week at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge alone, according to the latest tallies of the slowdown’s economic fallout … The Pharr-Reynosa bridge in Hidalgo County lost an estimated $202 million per day while the policy was in force, with average border wait times rising to 10-12 hours.”
- Racial Profiling and 30 Fatalities in Border Counties: In July, the Texas Tribune reported on a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project that found at least 30 deaths linked to car chases associated with Operation Lone Star and systematic racial profiling targeting Latinos caused by the program.
- Leading the Charge to Strip DACA from Dreamers, Including Texas Dreamers Who Are Valued Texas Employees: Despite recent polling showing Texas voters backing legal status for Dreamers by 61-27% margin, including majority support from Republican voters, Texas, under Gov. Abbott, is leading the legal charge against the popular Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the tens of thousands of Dreamers who rely on DACA for work permits and opportunities. Remember, there are more than 340,000 “essential” workers with DACA across the country, including 15,000 K-12 teachers at a time when many schools are already facing a teacher shortage.
- Leaning Into White Nationalist “Invasion” Rhetoric Despite Proven Dangers of Doing So in El Paso and Elsewhere: In 2019, a white supremacist gunman killed 23 people in El Paso because they looked Mexican. Gov. Abbott, under fire for a fundraising letter he had sent the day prior to the killings that stated, “If we’re going to DEFEND Texas, we’ll need to take matters into our own hands,” pledged after El Paso to be more responsible in his rhetoric. Yet three years later, Gov. Abbott is ignoring his post-El Paso pledge and has been one of the leading peddlers of the “invasion” conspiracy, which is fostering a dangerous climate of fear and nativism and has proven to lead to violence.