Washington, DC – Three years ago, after a white supremacist gunman killed 23 people in El Paso, Texas Governor Greg Abbott acknowledged that “mistakes were made” in a fundraising letter he had sent the day prior to the killings. The letter stated, “If we’re going to DEFEND Texas, we’ll need to take matters into our own hands.” The gunman, using the same rhetoric as Gov. Abbott, drove across the state and killed people he regarded as Mexican “invaders.” The killer didn’t distinguish between immigrants and citizens. He killed brown people. In acknowledging his contribution to creating a hostile climate for Mexican-Americans in Texas, Gov. Abbott pledged to do better and be more responsible, noting: “I emphasize the importance of making sure that rhetoric will not be used in any dangerous way.”
Three years later, and soon after another white supremacist gunman writing of ‘invasion’ and ‘replacement’ conspiracies murdered 10 people in Buffalo followed by the mass shooting that left 21 dead in Uvalde, Texas, Gov. Abbott is ignoring his post-El Paso pledge. Instead he has embraced a white nationalist lie that is fostering a dangerous climate of fear and nativism that has proven to lead to violence.
Yesterday’s executive order from Gov. Abbott, pledging state resources and the National Guard to expel suspected undocumented immigrants, escalates the stakes and scale of his relentless anti-immigrant campaign. The order includes the accusation that Biden has “abandoned the covenant, in Article IV, § 4 of the U.S. Constitution, that “[t]he United States . . . shall protect each [State in this Union] against Invasion,” and thus has forced the State of Texas to … repel the illegal immigration that funds the cartels…”
It’s setting up a legal and constitutional battle and establishing a dangerous model for other GOP states to follow. It’s driven by cynical political motives. And it’s a chilling development for every family in Texas, be they immigrant, mixed status, Black, Latino, Asian or anyone else law enforcement or individuals might target because of the color of their skin or the accent they speak with. Families across the state must reckon with what the news may mean for their day-to-day lives and whether they will need to carry proof of residency or citizenship or immigration status wherever they go.
The following is a statement from Mario Carrillo, Texas-based Campaigns Director for America’s Voice:
“When it comes to Greg Abbott and immigration, everything is a stunt. Operation Lone Star: a stunt. Blocking commerce at the border to ‘inspect’ trucks: a stunt. Sending migrants to DC on buses: a stunt. And his latest executive order: a stunt. He offers nothing. But when all else fails for him, he goes back to all he knows: attacking immigrants.
Unfortunately, even though Abbott’s motivations are about getting attention to foster his political ambitions, the real life implications are very serious for families in his state. Families like mine. How will Texas DPS know that someone is here undocumented? I have a feeling that it might be people who look like me or my family. My parents, naturalized U.S. citizens, live in El Paso and only speak Spanish. Can Texas DPS just take them to the port of entry and drop them off if they don’t have their U.S. passports with them?
Or, perhaps an even greater fear, especially for those of us from El Paso, is that one of Texas’ well-armed young men will heed the Governor’s militaristic call to action and take matters into their own hands. We know that threat is real and targeted at us. It has already happened, killing dozens of our fellow Texans, families and friends.
Coming in the same week as Abbott and the State of Texas’ attacks on DACA families like mine in the Fifth Circuit, it’s another reminder of the real people and real lives that hang in the balance and are endangered every time Abbott and his allies decide to attack immigrants for cynical, political reasons.”