tags: Press Releases

The Rising Toll: Costly Failures of Gov. Abbott’s Endless Anti-Immigrant Political Stunts

Share This:

Washington, DC – A Texas Tribune article, “Migrant encounters at the border are higher today than they were before Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star began,” highlights the “failure of Abbott’s office’s stated desire to ‘stop this revolving door and deter others considering entering illegally.’” As the article by James Barragán notes:

“For the past year and a half, Gov. Greg Abbott has made border security his priority and the centerpiece of his reelection campaign. He’s put $4 billion on the line to do so, initiating construction of a border wall and sending thousands of National Guard service members and state police to patrol the border with Mexico for months on end in his highly touted Operation Lone Star. 

… But despite those efforts, the number of migrants officials encounter at the Texas-Mexico border is higher today than it was before Operation Lone Star began, according to data reported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

…the continued pace of migrants at the state’s southern border calls into question the effectiveness of a state policy intended to stem border crossings that is costing the state the equivalent of the average annual college tuition and fees at a public university for 395,000 students.”

Of course, Gov. Abbott and others get it all wrong: believing that “success” is solely gauged by border apprehensions; that deterrence and enforcement-only approaches work; or that the complicated dynamics that lead to forced migration begin, end, or can be addressed best at the U.S. southern border (see here for a deeper dive on how the U.S. can best create a regional approach). But even by the narrow standards he himself outlines, Gov. Abbott’s approach has been a wasteful failure.

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

“Texas taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill for a bunch of dangerous anti-immigrant stunts that clearly do nothing to provide common sense solutions. Abbott’s mis-adventures are nothing more than in-kind donations to his re-election campaign, designed to shore up his nativist credentials with the GOP base and distract attention away from other unpopular stances on guns, abortion, and protecting Texas families from power outages. 

Gov. Abbott’s political actions are not only dehumanizing and ugly acts to hurt vulnerable migrants, but also wasteful and costly for all Texans and a distraction from real solutions that work for Texas and the country.” 

The latest reports on the costs and ineffectiveness of Gov. Abbott’s nativism pile onto earlier evidence, including:

  • Abbott/DeSantis Political Rivalry re. Migrant Transports Costing $2,200 Per Bus Passenger from Texas: Gov. Abbott’s ongoing stunt to bus migrants and asylum seekers from Texas to Democratic controlled cities – part of a GOP primary rivalry between Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – has a price tag of at least $14 million and growing. Some have estimated that these bus trips are costing around $2,200 per passenger (as compared to a $360 Greyhound ticket). 
  • Truck Inspection Stunt: Billions of Dollars Spent, Billions in Trade Disrupted, Zero Drugs Found: In April, Gov. Abbott ordered Texas state troopers to inspect every commercial truck traveling from Mexico – which he claimed was designed to combat drugs. Yet troopers found “zero drugs, weapons or any other type of contraband.” As NPR reported, the redundant truck inspections, “inflicted billions of dollars in U.S. trade losses — including $1 billion per week at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge alone, according to the latest tallies of the slowdown’s economic fallout … The Pharr-Reynosa bridge in Hidalgo County lost an estimated $202 million per day while the policy was in force, with average border wait times rising to 10-12 hours.” 
  • Racial Profiling and 30 Fatalities in Border Counties: In July, the Texas Tribune reported on a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project that found at least 30 deaths linked to car chases associated with Operation Lone Star and systematic racial profiling targeting Latinos caused by the program.
  • Leading the Charge to Strip DACA from Dreamers, Including Texas Dreamers Who Are Valued Texas Employees: Despite recent polling showing Texas voters backing legal status for Dreamers by 61-27% margin, including majority support from Republican voters, Texas, under Gov. Abbott, is leading the legal charge against the popular Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the tens of thousands of Dreamers in Texas who rely on DACA for work permits and opportunities. Remember, there are more than 340,000 “essential” workers with DACA across the country, including 15,000 K-12 teachers  at a time when many schools are already facing a teacher shortage.
  • Leaning Into White Nationalist “Invasion” Rhetoric Despite the Proven Dangers of Doing So in El Paso and Elsewhere: In 2019, a white supremacist gunman killed 23 people in El Paso because they looked Mexican. Gov. Abbott, under fire for a fundraising letter he had sent the day prior to the killings that stated, “If we’re going to DEFEND Texas, we’ll need to take matters into our own hands,” pledged after the El Paso murders to be more responsible in his rhetoric. Yet three years later, Gov. Abbott is ignoring his post-El Paso pledge and has been one of the leading peddlers of the “invasion” conspiracy, which is fostering a dangerous climate of fear and nativism and has proven to lead to violence.