tags: Press Releases

The Dehumanizing Cruelty in Texas is Part of a Larger Politically-Motivated GOP Immigration Blueprint

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Washington, DC – A new column by Ron Brownstein in The Atlantic focuses on the horrific details regarding Texas state troopers’ treatment of vulnerable children and pregnant women and the larger significance and pattern of Republican controlled states like Texas trying to seize immigration policymaking from the federal government.

The article, which includes extensive quotes from America’s Voice legal advisor David Leopold, is excerpted below and is available online here following reaction quotes from Vanessa Cárdenas and Mario Carillo.

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director at America’s Voice:

“If you thought family separation and kids in cages was the absolute lowest that immigration policy cruelty could go, think again. Gov. Abbott has taken cruelty to a new low by directing border officials to deny water to immigrants, push kids into the river, and string razor wire that causes bodily harm and death. But the horrific details out of Texas are part of a larger pattern of dehumanizing and politically-motivated nativism from Republicans. They are continuing their pre-baked political attack on immigration despite on-the-ground facts as part of an effort that started even before President Biden took office. Republican states like Texas and Florida are trying to usurp control of federal immigration policymaking through state lawsuits against programs that work like DACA and expanding parole and family reunification, all while enacting state policies that are both cruel and wasteful.

Despite the reality that Republican predictions of chaos after the lifting of Title 42 got it exactly wrong, House Republicans are gearing up for a sham impeachment of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The next installment in this fictional reality TV series is next week when Secretary Mayorkas testifies in Congress. It’s all independent from the real facts, moves us farther from the solutions we need to fix our immigration system, and opens the door to dangerous violence and dehumanizing treatment of immigrants by amplifying dangerous white nationalist rhetoric about ‘invasions’ and secret conspiracies.”

According to Mario Carrillo, Texas-based Campaigns Manager for America’s Voice:

“The country is now finally seeing where the spiral of dehumanization of migrants has led us. Gov. Abbott’s cruel and unconstitutional immigration enforcement machine is designed to harm migrants, and those of us in Texas have long called for an end to Operation Lone Star. It is beyond time that the federal government exert some oversight over what Gov. Abbott and a dozen or more red state governors are doing with tax dollars on the border.

In the four years since the murderous attack on my hometown of El Paso by a white extremist, Republicans have refused to reflect on the role that their rhetoric and policies have had in the escalation of violence we’ve seen in our state and our country. Texas advocates are calling on the Biden administration to investigate Operation Lone Star, and calling on Gov. Abbott to put a stop to this inhumane program once and for all.”

Read excerpts from Ron Brownstein’s article in The Atlantic, “The GOP’s Lurch Towards Extremism Comes for the Border,” below:

“Texas state troopers receiving orders from their superiors to deny water to migrants in triple-digit heat. Officers on another occasion ordering troopers to drive back into the Rio Grande a group of migrants, including children and babies, that they found huddling alongside a fence by the river.

These are all incidents that a medic in the Texas Department of Public Safety says he witnessed during recent patrols, according to an explosive email published this week by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News. ‘I believe we have stepped over a line into the in humane [sic],’ the medic, Nicholas Wingate, wrote in the email.

… To many immigration experts, these moves by Texas, like the harsh measures against undocumented migrants signed into law this spring by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, push to the edge the legal limits on states’ ability to infringe on federal authority over immigration.

‘U.S. immigration law governs the border; Texas law doesn’t govern the border,’ David Leopold, a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told me. Federal law, he noted, establishes a process for handling undocumented migrants seeking asylum in the United States. ‘It may not be a process that I like, or you like, or people in Texas like, but it’s a process,’ Leopold added. ‘And that process does not include taking a 4-year-old child and throwing that child into the water … or depriving them of water when the temperatures are above 100 degrees. Those are not our values. Those are not our laws.’

… ‘There needs to be federal investigations of this,’ David Leopold told me. ‘The Biden administration should be out front in demanding that the creation of chaos at the southern border by these southern governors stops now.’

Angela Kelley, a former senior adviser to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, told me that the Biden administration generally sought to minimize conflict with Abbott early on, while it was struggling to redirect many of Trump’s federal immigration policies. But Texas, she said, is now pursuing ‘actions [that] actually exceed the atrocities of Trump’s child separation policy.’ If Biden feels pressure from congressional Democrats and advocacy groups, ‘I think that they will act, because it will be an embarrassment that this administration sat back and let’ Texas pursue such policies ‘in an arena that is really the federal government’s responsibility,’ said Kelley, now the chief policy adviser to the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

… Abbott’s willingness to pursue such a militant enforcement campaign, and the decision by so many Republican governors to assist him, provides another measure of the same impulse evident in the proliferating red-state laws restricting or banning abortion, rolling back voting rights, and prohibiting gender-affirming care for transgender minors. All capture a determination to slip the bonds of national authority and impose a set of rules and policies that reflect the priorities and grievances of the primarily older, white, nonurban and Christian coalition that has placed these states’ leaders in power.

That impulse, as Leopold says, is producing a dangerous ‘balkanization’ of the country reminiscent of the years before the Civil War. It has also motivated the leadership of the nation’s second-largest state to conclude that the threat of undocumented immigration is sufficient to justify, both legally and morally, entangling children and pregnant women in coils of razor-sharp wire.”