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The GOP's rhetoric isn't solving any problems at the border

by Bradly Gill | May 3, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.

State Rep. Matt Krause, a Fort Worth Republican, made headlines last month when he asked Attorney General Ken Paxton to issue an opinion on whether Texas could declare an "invasion" at its border and start enforcing federal immigration policy.

Some will recall that "invasion" is the incendiary term a vigilante used in an anti-Hispanic manifesto he wrote before gunning down 23 shoppers in an El Paso Wal-Mart two years ago. The shooter's diatribe mirrored sentiments expressed by then-President Donald Trump, who used the words "invasion," "criminal" and "animals" to describe immigrants more than 500 times from 2017 to 2019.

Krause should be ashamed he echoed this dangerous rhetoric. So should Gov. Greg Abbott, who's used the term "invasion" in reference to immigrants, drugs and guns crossing into Texas from Mexico.

Abbott is considering Krause's request but acknowledges there are legal hurdles. He's right. Legal experts say declaring an invasion would likely be struck down in court because, in their view, framers of the Constitution aimed to allow states to protect against a potential invasion by a hostile power, not immigrants coming to America to seek a better life.

Amid non-productive GOP rhetoric about an "invasion," Paxton sued the Biden administration late last month for its decision to halt a Trump-era policy allowing for mass federal deportations of asylum seekers.

Lawsuits targeting those who are desperately trying to escape violence and persecution in their home countries, and grandstanding about an "invasion" of immigrants are the latest ploys state Republican leaders have ginned up to garner support from their right-wing base ahead of the November elections. They come on the heels of Abbott's widely ridiculed decisions last month to bus migrants to Washington using taxpayer money (he is now asking Texans to reach into their wallets again as he seeks private donations for the rides) and to conduct secondary inspections of commercial trucks at the border.

Those inspections snarled border traffic for days and cost the Texas economy $4 billion in lost gross domestic product. And what did Texans, who never asked for this, get in return? Abbott's political stunt yielded no arrests, no seizures of illegal drugs and no weapons. Nothing.

It all begs the question: If problems at the border are "a crisis" as Abbott insists, when will Republican leaders get serious about immigration reform? We saw a glimmer of hope last week with the news that a bipartisan group of U.S. senators – including Texas Republican John Cornyn – aim to jump-start long-stalled immigration reform negotiations in Congress. That's where this debate belongs because border enforcement is a federal, not state, responsibility.

"I've been here for a while now, and we've never failed to fail when it comes to immigration," Cornyn, a 20-year Senate veteran, told Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper. "So I'm hoping this time is different."

Instead of using the bully pulpit for campaign theater that achieves nothing, Abbott should have appealed to Cornyn – the ranking member on the Senate's Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety Subcommittee – long ago, asking him to propose reforms addressing border security and Texas' significant workforce needs.

Immigrants comprise 23% of the Texas workforce and are key to sustaining rapid economic growth. About 1.2 million of these workers hired by Texas employers are in the country illegally, according to the Center for American Progress. But Republican officials who love to talk about an "invasion" on the border conspicuously omit that point from their rhetoric.

Politicians like Krause exploit the dearth of serious policy reform proposals to poison the political discourse.

-- Austin American Statesman, May 1

Print Headline: The GOP's rhetoric isn't solving any problems at the border


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