Washington, DC – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have been trying to outdo each other with cruel and distracting nativist stunts designed to shore up their bona fides with the MAGA base voter crowd. Yet as two important stories remind us today, their relentless politicized nativism and their “own the libs” stunts to transport migrants and asylum seekers to Democratic jurisdictions are at direct odds with the immediate needs of their states.
An NPR story by John Burnett, “Undocumented immigrant workers are helping clean up Florida after Hurricane Ian,” highlights that after Gov. DeSantis spent months planning and executing a complicated and expensive plan to fly migrants from Texas to Massachusetts to make a political point, immigrant workers, including undocumented workers, are set to play an outsized role in Florida’s recovery efforts:
“Southwest Florida has begun the arduous process of cleaning up and rebuilding after catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Ian. The coastal cities and barrier island villages are about to find out what storm-struck communities in other Gulf states have learned in recent years – that America has a labor shortage. And immigrant workers, many of whom are in this country illegally, fill a critical role in the storm recovery.
…Southwest Florida is where New Orleans was in September of 2005 and where Houston was in September of 2017 after Hurricane Harvey. In Florida, thousands of homes and businesses will need rebuilding. But first, who’s going to drag out the sodden, reeking, moldy furnishings?
…Overseeing the recovery is Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. He is running for reelection, he’s considered a likely candidate for the White House and he’s openly hostile about undocumented people in his state. Last month, he flew two planeloads of just-arrived asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard to stick it to liberal enclaves.
…Emily Timm is co-director of the Workers Defense Project, a Texas immigrant advocacy group that works in Houston. She says a governor should not score political points bashing undocumented migrants at the same time they’re helping to clean up his storm-ravaged state.
[Timm says] “The immigrant workers and the construction workers who are rebuilding Florida – they deserve that recognition and that credit and to stop being used as political pawns.””
In Texas, Houston Chronicle columnist Chris Tomlinson writes, “Abbott’s immigration stunts contribute to inflation, slow Texas’s economy and hurt people.” Tomlinson highlights that as Gov. Abbott runs for re-election, his relentless anti-immigrant stunts are not just cruel, but costly and counterproductive for Texas, noting:
“Polls show inflation and immigration are among the most important issues for Texans, so it’s too bad Gov. Greg Abbott will not acknowledge that the solution to one problem can be found in addressing the other.
Abbott is spending millions of taxpayer dollars to bus hundreds of asylum-seekers across the country. Yet, at the same time, Texas businesses have tens of thousands of job openings for low and semi-skilled workers. Allowing these migrants to work, pay taxes and support their families would help the migrants and bring down inflation in Texas.
After all, economic growth comes from a growing workforce that makes more things or rising productivity that allows fewer people to make more things. Grow the workforce and productivity, and the economy takes off. We have neither right now.
…Comprehensive immigration reform that grants asylum seekers the opportunity to support their families and pay taxes would boost the U.S. economy. But instead, Abbott and his fellow Republicans use real people as political pawns rather than solutions to our inflation problem.
… Abbott will ruin all kinds of lives to retain power, including those of women with unwanted pregnancies and parents with transgender children. His priority is appealing to Republican voters who spend their days watching the outrage factory that is Fox News and who show little understanding of economics or compassion … Voters should carefully consider how Abbott treats people when casting their ballots.”
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:
Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott typify a Republican Party more interested in stoking grievance, spreading fear and soliciting pats on the back from nativist voters than actually governing in the best interests of their states or advancing solutions on immigration and other key subjects. Will DeSantis ship out immigrants helping to rebuild Florida? Will Abbott continue evicting immigrants and asylum seekers from Texas, which only fuels inflation? Their political displays of nativism are not just cruel and dangerous for immigrant families, but run counter to the needs and economic interests of all in Florida and Texas.