Abbott leads GOP push for Trump-style border measures – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Promise to build a wall. Descriptions of American homes “overrun” by immigrants and a trail of “carnage”. Plans to arrest cross-border workers and transport them to jail.
It’s not Donald Trump in 2016. It’s Texas Governor Greg Abbott 2021.
The ambitious Republican is the first in a group of GOP governors who have picked up where the former president left off on tough immigration measures.
Over the past few weeks, Abbott has deployed tough plans and rhetoric never seen before, even in Texas, where Republicans have spent a decade making border security the centerpiece of their agenda. Abbott, who is seen as a potential presidential candidate in 2024, has even vowed to continue building Trump’s border wall and adopted a questionable method to help pay for him: crowdsourcing and soliciting.
Abbott’s new push has been called political theater, which he rejected as the number of border crossers remains high. But it caught Trump’s attention. The former president is due to visit the US-Mexico border for the first time since leaving the White House in January. He will appear with Abbott on Wednesday and is expected to be joined in Texas by other GOP lawmakers.
The moves of Abbott and other Republican governors, including some with possible aspirations in 2024, are a sign of how Trump’s anti-immigration policies are surviving his presidency.
Republican leaders who want a future in the party continue to view support for aggressive border measures as a political winner, backed by the 2020 results which suggest Trump’s tact has not scared Latino voters like some Democrats away. ‘had predicted.
There are signs that Republican pressure is working. After weeks of criticism for not visiting the border, Vice President Kamala Harris is due to travel to El Paso on Friday.
“From the perspective of the Republican public, this is a solid question for the governor,” said Matt Langston, a Republican strategist in Texas. “This is a question that will pay dividends for Governor Abbott.”
Abbott is not alone in this quest.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, another potential presidential candidate, last week became the first governor to announce that he would deploy his own state’s law enforcement to the 2,000-mile national border with Mexico, although he gave few details that leave the extent of this commitment unclear.
Since Democrat Joe Biden took office as president, Abbott has tried to position the largest Republican-led US state as the main antagonist of the federal government’s border policies. He suggested without evidence in the spring that migrants with COVID-19 put Texans at risk due to Biden’s relaxation of Trump-era immigration measures. Abbot began June by closing more than 50 shelters that house thousands of migrant children.
His intentions to take back one of Trump’s most well-known and incomplete promises – to build more wall – is a step Texas has yet to take amid a decade of escalating spending and deployments to the United States. border with Mexico. Abbott said Texas would start by shifting $ 250 million from the state to a new barrier and funding more through crowdsourcing, creating a webpage and PO box so supporters of the project can donate their own money. . The project has so far raised more than $ 459,000, according to his office, although he did not provide the number of donors.
The latest high-profile attempt to build a wall with crowdsourcing was led by supporters of Trump and Steve Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, who was later accused of duping thousands of donors to the project. Trump pardoned Bannon on his last day in office.
The promises of the new barrier add to plans for Texas state soldiers to begin arresting border workers and jailing them for state crimes, such as trespassing. Abbott said “homes are overrun” along the border. Landowners are losing livestock and crops, Abbott said, due to “carnage caused by people crossing the border.”
US Customs and border protection recorded more than 180,000 encounters at the Mexican border in May, the highest number since March 2000. But the numbers have been amplified by a ban on seeking asylum linked to the pandemic that has encouraged repeated attempts to cross as getting caught had no legal consequences. .
Nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children were recovered along the border in March, by far the highest month on record. April was the second highest and May was the third.
Abbott has dismissed criticism that his measurements are only for the show.
“Anyone who thinks this is politics has no idea what’s going on at the border,” Abbott told the Texas Capitol last week. “Anyone who thinks it’s politics doesn’t care about US citizens or residents of Texas.”
Immigration has been a weak point for Biden.
A May poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that 43% of Americans approved of his treatment of the problem, while 54% disapproved. Republicans across the United States have taken advantage of this discontent, even the GOP governors of Idaho and Nebraska have said they too will be sending a small number of law enforcement officers to the border.
Trump made dramatic inroads with Latino voters last year along the Texas border, which has long been a stronghold for Democrats but is also more socially conservative than the state’s major liberal cities. Texas’ Rio Grande Valley was a major backdrop for Trump’s anti-immigration policies, but building walls and border patrol personnel have also created jobs.
Some Democrats and immigrant rights groups have questioned the legality of Abbott’s plans, although no legal challenges have yet been filed. U.S. Representative Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, a border Democrat, said solutions are needed, but not those Abbott wants, to slow the number of migrations. He said the walls had never worked and that Abbott would have to invest in technologies such as cameras and sensors.
“I think he is horribly wrong,” he said. “He might speak to the national audience. But clearly, that doesn’t represent the majority of Texans.”