Abbott’s office has previously bristled at criticism that his stunt of busing thousands of human beings to regions including Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New York City is a stunt, but that’s exactly what it is. NBC News reported early Monday morning that Abbott had sent another busload of human beings to Vice President Kamala Harris’ official residence.
“Pressed by a moderator about why Abbott has only sent migrants to states governed by Democrats, Abbott suggested that another round of buses would be deployed to other cities that he did not name,” The Washington Post reported. But he’s only saying that because he’s been correctly called out, and Abbott’s own press release boasting of the stunt back in April plainly stated the busing was happening because of a pro-migrant policy decision by the Biden administration. This is not a humanitarian mission, this is political retribution.
Moderators during the debate also played a clip of New York City Mayor Eric Adams saying that Abbott’s office had refused to cooperate with his office on the busing. Illinois officials had also called Abbott’s office “wholly uncooperative.”
”Abbott said during the debate that he hadn’t been contacted by New York Mayor Eric Adams related to migrants coming from Texas,” News 19 reported. But the outlet said that lie was debunked by Adams’ press secretary, who tweeted a screenshot of the mayor’s office’s communications with Abbott’s staffers that proved otherwise.
O’Rourke further blasted the multibillion dollar Operation Lone Star, which has targeted and jailed Black and brown migrants, many in violation of state law. O’Rourke said the scheme has “clearly failed.”
”The numbers are in,” he said. “We’re seeing not fewer, but more engagements at the border. When the governor spent $4 billion of our tax dollars on what has turned out to be political theater for his political career. He promised us that it would deter people from coming to this country. We’ve only seen more people come. Now they get a bus ride to Chicago, or Washington, D.C., or New York. We don’t need any more stunts, we need solutions.”
Abbott had no rebuttal for that response because it was all true, so he instead pivoted to fentanyl and the border, one of the most popular GOP tropes of the moment. That fact is, it’s largely U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been caught smuggling large quantities of drugs. But Republicans have continued falsely linking immigration and fentanyl, with the relentless parroting having discernible results. Recent polling has shown that 40% of Americans, including most Republicans, believe this lie.
O’Rourke was also correct in labeling Abbott’s political stunts as dangerous, because they have only emboldened anti-immigrant forces in the state. This past summer, Abbott issued an executive order purporting to give state law enforcement the power to detain and return recently crossed migrants to the border. That order signaled to violent extremists by echoing “invasion” rhetoric. Last month, two Texas brothers pursued a group of migrants, shooting two and murdering one.
”The San Antonio Express-News reported that Mike Sheppard was the warden of the West Texas Detention Center, run by the Louisiana-based LaSalle Corrections, a company that operates jails, prisons and immigration detention centers,” The Texas Tribune reported. “Sheppard began working as a warden in 2015 at the West Texas facility, which has been the subject of several allegations of violence against immigrants, according to The Intercept.”
The outlet said the two brothers claimed they’d been hunting for animals and had allegedly spotted a javelina. What a coincidence that the warden of an abusive immigration detention facility just happened to end up in a pursuit that claimed that life of a migrants.
“This was a hate crime against brown-skinned immigrants that was inspired by the invasion rhetoric of Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and others,” Rep. Joaquin Castro said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “There was no way for the killers to know who their victims were or what their legal status was. The division and fear that Greg Abbott and his fellow bigots have created has made Texas a more dangerous place for all Hispanics. National leaders on both sides of the aisle need to condemn the rhetoric that inspired this attack, and Texas authorities must swiftly prosecute this crime as murder.”
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.