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Stats, Stunts and Solutions: What You Need to Know About the Trump-Abbott Border Visit

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Here we go again. Donald Trump heads to the border to spread lies, stoke fear and spew racism. He’ll be flanked by Republican electeds eager to kiss the ring in hopes of winning future primaries. In addition, he’ll be accompanied by former White House and former acting DHS officials who are infamous for their government work in child kidnapping.

Here is what you need to know Trump, Abbott and the gang do their thing.

Stats: Cutting through the GOP lies and spin with real facts about the border.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick is Policy Counsel for the American Immigration Council and an essential follow for the real facts and context about border numbers. Too many in the media have bought hook, line, and sinker the Republican spin about border numbers and Biden’s role (a GOP blame game that started in summer 2020 before Biden was in office!). The facts: fewer people have crossed the border in 2021 than under Trump in 2019, and fewer families have come to the border in 2021 than under Trump in 2019.

In a must-read thread, Reichlin-Melnick responds to yet another terrible network package: 

Apprehensions fell from April to May, fewer people have crossed in 2021 than in 2019, and 200,000+ fewer *families* have come to the border than in 2019. These incredibly important facts—which completely undermine the “Biden’s empathy caused this” claim—are not mentioned once…The idea that Biden being more empathetic in tone on the campaign set off a historic border surge is so incredibly frustrating to respond to, because we just saw 2019 happen only two years ago, when MORE families came under Trump! So is cruelty more of a motivator than empathy?

Stunts: 2024 Republican hopefuls tripping over themselves to kiss Trump’s ring and posture as mini-Trumps. 

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota are among those competing to see who can pucker up and kiss Trump’s, um, ring the most. Like Trump, they only care about the hardcore base of white grievance voters in the GOP.   

  • Gov. Abbott is facing a primary challenge in his drive for re-election next year, and he’s widely thought to harbor presidential ambitions. He has declared a disaster at the border, is using state money to help build a few miles of border wall, and is attacking immigrant kids seeking shelter. Border crisis? Note that all four of the Rio Grande Valley border counties – the area the GOP pointed to as the epicenter of border encounters as VP Kamala Harris visited El Paso – have opted out of Gov. Greg Abbott’s trumped up “disaster declaration.”
  • Not to be outdone, Gov. Noem is sending a handful of South Dakota National Guard troops to the U.S./Mexico border. To show her talent for corruption, the “mission” is funded by a private GOP mega donor. As Charles Pierce of Esquire writes: “Here we have a cabal of Republican governors using their law-enforcement apparatus—and now, their National Guard troops—in a coordinated exercise in political gamesmanship…”
  • Worth noting: xenophobia backfires outside the base. Let’s not forget that in the run up to the 2018 midterms, Trump and many Republicans turned to similar red-hot race-baiting and fear mongering about “caravans and criminals.” It backfired. It’s a reminder that Republicans play to the base on these issues in a way that drives away suburban and swing voters while mobilizing racial justice voters – especially if Democrats stay disciplined, call out the GOP game, and lean in to define themselves on the issue (see here for more).

What about our dysfunctional immigration system? Trump and Republicans are infamous for cruelty and chaos; Biden and Democrats are focused on durable solutions.

  • GOP cruelty, lies, and fear. We don’t expect Trump’s border stunts today to reference his policy of family separation; nor discuss how he raided appropriated military funds to advance his stupid border wall; nor highlight how he sought to end DACA and subject Dreamers to deportation. Instead, we’ll get more of the same: ugly fear-mongering about immigrants as criminals, terrorists and gangbangers, and lies about “open borders,” “catch and release” and his wildly exaggerated claims of the effectiveness of his lawless and cruel policies. Trump’s real aim: to deploy racism and xenophobia strategically to stoke white identity voters and distract from the Biden success on COVID, jobs and the return of basic decency. 
  • The Biden plan on immigration. There’s a great deal more for the new administration to do, given the mess they inherited from Trump, Stephen Miller and their goons at DHS. But Biden is making progress: on a legislative push to deliver citizenship for millions of long-settled immigrants; on a regional approach to forced migration from Central America since the real crisis is in the countries from which migrants and refugees leave; and on putting the pieces in place to forge a well-managed border that is safe, orderly, and humane. 

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

In the 2020 election, Trump was soundly rejected by a record 81 million voters. In part, that’s because the majority favors a fair, humane and orderly approach to managing migration rather than the cruel, chaotic and divisive approach to deterring migration. 

Expect nothing new from Trump and Republicans today. Their hate and lies will be on full display, again. But like a fading celebrity singing the old hits to a shrinking crowd, he’ll be buoyed by sycophants and fellow travelers. They will sentimentalize the good ol days when they stole babies from mothers and sent refugees back to danger. They will perpetuate the Big Lie and further degrade our democracy. They will wish the old man luck as he will leave the scene of the crime at the border to face charges for additional crimes in New York. 

Despite the myths and conspiracies that define their invented world, it’s now time for Trump to get reacquainted with the real world of truth and consequences.