Texans don’t hate immigrants. Why then continue to elect such a cruel governor?

(Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Texans don’t hate immigrants. Why then continue to elect such a cruel governor?

Op-ed, Immigration and the border

LZ Granderson

January 23, 2024

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg didn’t hold back when criticizing the Texas governor. Greg Abbott’s handling of the migrant crisis at the border. During a recent NBC interview, he called Abbott’s policies racist and xenophobic, particularly Senate Bill 4, which allows an officer to arrest anyone suspected of illegally entering the state from Mexico.

It’s Abbott’s version of stop and frisk. The suspicion usually starts with skin color.

We know this is an open door for racial profiling, Nirenberg said. He pointed out that his city has managed to process 600,000 migrants since 2021 without resorting to any policy as inhumane as that.

That’s because Nirenberg is not the kind of Texan who would call the victims of a mass shooting illegal immigrants, as Abbott did less than a year ago. He would not target water breaks for construction workers as part of his immigration policy, as Abbott did. And Nirenberg certainly wouldn’t regret not being able to shoot migrants seeking refuge. Or let the state’s National Guard stop Border Patrol agents from helping migrants drowning in the Rio Grande. (The Supreme Court on Monday ended that effort, ruling that the state must let the FBI patrol it.)

A mother and her two children were recently killed while trying to enter the U.S. near the Eagle Pass border town, about three hours south of San Antonio. Their deaths brought a new round of criticism of Abbott’s migrant policies, including from Nirenberg, but I doubt he cares.

Abbott was the first governor to arm migrants by busing them to other states. He was the governor who spent three hours at a fundraiser the night of the Uvalde shooting. He was the governor who did not attend a single funeral for Uvalde’s 21 victims, some as young as 9 years old.

Why should he care about the people who died near Eagle Pass when his indifference won him an election? What brings


us here: who votes for someone as cruel as Abbott?

The short answer is: most voters in Texas, because he has been in power since 2015. The economy is strong and the cost of living is relatively low. Most importantly, the same qualities that made him infamous throughout blue America keep him in power here in the Lone Star State.

If racism pops into your head, you’re not entirely wrong.

But it’s not the full story. And that’s where progressives tend to go wrong.

Abbott has a sense of urgency about the migrant crisis that is emerging among honest Texans and cannot be underestimated. Of course, a lot of it is political theater. But it was a damn good show. President Biden has added to the drama with his conspicuous absence.

Where is he? asked Eagle Pass native Homer Squiveli. Biden needs to see what’s happening here in Texas.

I’m not saying he doesn’t care. I tell him to act like it’s more important than what we’ve seen.

The 27-year-old works near the park where the mother and children drowned while trying to reach the US. Like many of the people I spoke to this week in the city’s central business district, he expresses great empathy for those living in such desperate circumstances. that they risk their lives to escape.

That reflects a consciousness that is woven into the fabric of this city of 28,000 inhabitants. A number of churches near that site, Shelby Park, offer services to newly arrived families in need. There are as many law firms in the area as there are places to eat. Locals talk about the familiar sound of low-flying helicopters patrolling the skies at night.

Yet the migrant numbers are unprecedented, and with it unrest, even among some empathetic locals.

As much as Squiveli says he cares, he also reports hearing from family and friends about an increase in crime in the area. He said his sister was approached by migrants in the parking lot of a supermarket near her car asking for money. He said his mother’s neighbor’s house had been broken into.

And the gun he is carrying is visible. But that doesn’t mean he supports what Abbott is doing.

“I think what the governor is doing is inhumane,” he said. We always welcome people here. As long as you don’t mess with people or their stuff, it’s all good.

What’s not all good about him is the lack of control over who can enter. That’s why, even though he doesn’t like what Abbott is doing, he said the governor should try to do something. That’s a sentiment I recently heard from others in Eagle Pass.

From my experience in Texas and Arizona, what holds back cruel conservatives

search right away

Abbott in office is not just a bias. It also seems to solve a major problem that too many left-wing politicians don’t make essential to their platforms. When border towns

search right away

Eagle Pass and El Paso

to be confronted with a wave, to be flooded with in


the crisis is essential to them, and they live there

Appreciate a politician who seems to take it seriously, even if they don’t agree with the way he’s handling it.

The passage of SB4 has led to a lawsuit by the Justice Department, claiming states cannot pass immigration laws that conflict with the framework established by Congress. Of course, Texas is fighting the Biden administration in court

is a refrain that

started in 2020, then

Abbott is the Texas

The attorney general has filed a lawsuit seeking to have the election results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin thrown out. The Supreme Court has swept that off the table


pointless lawsuit.

It has been an ongoing battle ever since, including in 2023 when the Justice Department

South Texas for placing buoys in the Rio Grande to form a deadly barrier

. Currently, the two are feuding over the use of barbed wire in Shelby Park.

I don’t really like how cruel the governor is, a store clerk in Eagle Pass told me. It’s as if he keeps forgetting that these are desperate people coming to us for help.

And yet

Something has to be done, she said. I live down the road, and it can be scary not knowing if people are there, you know?

Yes. The locals are not really angry about migrants. They worry about safety. And these concerns keep Abbott in office. He keeps getting re-elected.

It doesn’t matter whether his efforts are constitutional or cruel. This month he announced that more than 100,000 migrants had been moved to other states, to “sanctuary cities.” That’s not a single solution to our broken immigration system, but for many Texas voters it’s better than nothing.



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