Republicans are stoking fear and hatred while Democrats have a plan, are taking action, and are making progress
Washington, DC – Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas is grabbing headlines off his announcement that he will divert funds from disaster relief – and seek private donations – to build more border wall in Texas. This is part of a concerted effort by Abbott, other Republicans in Texas, Republican Governors, and GOP Members of Congress to escalate their rhetoric and stage stunts to keep the media focused on the border – to the exclusion of other immigration issues and to the exclusion of kitchen table issues of priority to voters.
Republicans – and too many in the media – are trying to reduce the immigration issue down to a fierce focus over whether and when President Biden or Vice President Harris will travel to the border for their own photo-op. Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida is even threatening to hold up Biden’s Homeland Security nominees until Biden stages such a photo-op.
These are not serious people.
As Abbott tries to turn Texas into the new Arizona – ground zero in the national immigration debate – he does so not because he cares about the issue as much as he’s desperate to remain in office. This is the essential context for understanding his actions.
- Abbott’s poll numbers are sinking, according to the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin, with Abbott now underwater in his approve/disapprove numbers;
- Abbott faces potential primary challenges, was desperate for Trump’s endorsement (which he recently received) and has invited the former big guy for a border visit at the end of the month;
- Abbott plans to use $250 million in taxpayer money to build more border wall. The funds are to be taken from the state’s disaster relief fund at a time when hurricane season is starting (and there is a storm already in the Gulf), when he should be paying down the $18 billion utility bills from the deadly winter storm that took 150 lives, and as Texas confronts a new energy crisis because of heat;
- As John Burnett noted on NPR’s Morning Edition today, there was fierce resistance from Texas landowners in the borderlands to Trump’s border wall efforts. They fought back because they object to their land being taken away. And let’s not forget the fraud, indictments, corruption, spectacular failure and fiasco surrounding federal and private border wall efforts;
- Dangerously, at the Governor’s press conference announcing his plans yesterday, Lt. Gov Dan Patrick stated the wall was needed so that the state would not be “invaded.” This elicited a sharp rebuke from Rep. Veronica Escobar of El Paso who noted on Twitter:
“This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Words from the white terrorist from Allen, TX when he drove to El Paso to massacre immigrants and Mexicans. You’re on notice @DanPatrick. You, too @GregAbbott_TX If people die again, blood will be on your hands.”
All of this political gamesmanship and reckless fear mongering is in sharp contrast to the actual substance of the immigration debate being driven by President Biden and the Democrats. Just this week, Democrats have made major announcements that show how they are making progress in undoing the cruelty of Trump and his party to put in place a clear plan to address migration issues at the border and beyond. Consider these developments:
- Expanded the Central American Minors program to establish clear pathways for Central American children to join family in the U.S. in a safe and legal manner without having to make the perilous journey to the southern border to apply for protection;
- The DOJ vacated Trump-era asylum restrictions that were opposed by experts and advocates in order to make asylum accessible again;
- Restored money stolen from the military and other appropriations by former President Trump under the guise of a fake national emergency to build his unpopular border wall;
- Expanded access to greencards for victims of crime, which were curtailed by former President Trump.
- Held a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to set the stage for movement forward on bills putting millions of undocumented immigrants on pathways to citizenship, enormously popular proposals with the vast majority of Americans, including the majority of Republicans, despite unanimous Senate GOP opposition.
According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:
Up and down the ranks of its officeholders, the increasingly radical GOP has become borderline crazy. They are descending down a rabbit hole and trying to take the immigration debate down with them. They want to boil the whole issue of migration down to whether Biden or Harris pose for photos in Texas.
But, let’s be honest, the GOP’s borderline obsession is all they have when it comes to immigration. They see Democrats solving problems and are desperate to change the subject back to ‘scary brown and black people coming to take or kill.’ After all, this is the GOP’s overarching message and not just on immigration.
Especially in Texas, Republicans also have learned nothing from the murderous white nationalist attack on El Paso. Once again, they are using the language of ‘invasion’ that is straight from the shooter’s manifesto. Republicans can’t plead ignorance. Their dangerous words can have violent consequences. They just don’t seem to care.
Meanwhile, the American people have been clear that they want action, compassion, citizenship for immigrants and an end to the hollow politics of division for division’s sake. Democrats are making progress as part of a clear plan of action to turn the page on Trump’s chaos and cruelty and deliver solutions for the American people. And Republicans hate that.