Governor Abbott and “Illegal Immigrants”

Elections & Politics Policy Brief #116 | By: Abigail Hunt | January 22, 2024
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In the weeks leading up to Christmas, deep in the heart of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott signed a law into effect giving state law enforcement a broader right to arrest individuals crossing into Texas illegally (set to go into effect in March 2024) and directing the setup of flotation barricades and miles of razor wire barriers along the Rio Grande River. The physical deterrents so far have not limited the flow of illegal immigrants. It is estimated that in December 2023 a record 300,000 people crossed into Texas from Mexico. Despite the criminal enhancement for lack of documentation in crossing, and the decreased acceptance for asylum seekers, the flow of humanity crossing the southern border continues. Abbott’s decrees are violations of federal law and of a recent Supreme Court decision specifically about illegal immigrants, but that was in Arizona. Abbott is hedging his bets that the current Supreme Court, historically infamous already for its conservatism, will rule in his favor on what he believes is a valid state constitutional rights violation. Abbott is now on notice from the government regarding this federal violation of law.

In Eagle Pass, Texas, the New York Times spoke to citizens facing the real costs of immigration every day. Each month, the local fire department responds to an average of seven calls a day for emergencies related to people crossing the border – the ambulance cost for just these calls is $150,000/month.

The people crossing our border are coming from somewhere. In 2023, of the 2.4 million illegal immigrants crossing the southern border, most came from Mexico (717,333), Venezuela (266,071), Guatemala (220,085), Honduras (213,686), Colombia (159,539), Cuba (142,352), and Ecuador (116,229). Estimates from the Department of Homeland Security state that 4 million of those crossing the border have been expelled back to their own countries.

Because our government is run by people, like Governor Abbott, who grew up in the mid-20th century, they continue to use immigration policies and tactics previously shown to be failures. The fact is, the United States is a first-world nation that borders a third-world nation.  The opportunities available in the U.S. are a tempting draw for those whose lives are in real threat of violence daily. People do not leave a place where they are healthy and happy to move elsewhere. A failure to acknowledge the root causes means we will continue to struggle with an ever-expanding migration of desperate and destitute foreigners seeking solace and refuge, barriers be damned.

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