A gimmick. Stuck on stupid. A clog in the drain.
Those are some of the phrases Republicans, Democrats and immigrant rights activists are using to describe new border security initiatives Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week, which include busing apprehended migrants to Washington, D.C.
Abbott, who is running for reelection in November, also announced last week the state would be ramping up vehicle inspections along the U.S.-Mexico border. This has already led to hours-long lines at checkpoints and protests by Mexican truckers.
Aileen Teague, an assistant professor of international affairs at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service, said Abbott’s latest proposals are part political theater: Politicians often use immigration issues as a bargaining chip during election years.
“What Gov. Abbott presents is just another sort of political move of kinda moving the issue to Washington’s back door,” Teague told The Texas Newsroom.
“Does it actually make the entire situation of comprehensive immigration reform, economic connections between Mexico and the United States, and the migration issue — does it make it better? I think that the answer is a resounding no,” she said.
Abbott has described his latest proposals as a response to President Joe Biden’s decision to rescind Title 42 — the pandemic-era policy that permitted the expulsion of migrants seeking asylum on public health grounds.
“This is Gov. Abbott’s way of showing that he’s discontented with losing the sort of privilege to detain migrants,” Teague said.
Abbott’s mass relocation policy targets those migrants who were apprehended along the border by federal law enforcement agencies and were later released into the U.S. while their court cases move forward.
Last week, when Abbott unveiled the policy, he said Texas was going to provide “charter buses to send these illegal immigrants who have been dropped off by the Biden Administration to Washington, D.C.”
But soon after, Abbott clarified that the program was completely voluntary.
“If I were to go to Washington, D.C., and take you and put you on a bus and take you down to the Rio Grande Valley, that would be kidnapping,” Abbott told Fox News.
While some in the GOP praised Abbott’s new plan, others called the governor’s proposals a political stunt.