Assclown Alert: Stoking the fires of anti-immigrant hate with Gov. Greg Abbott

The Texas governor's new 'most wanted list' of immigrants is his latest attempt to gin up fear for political gain.

click to enlarge Gov. Greg Abbott has repeatedly invoked false narratives about immigrants. - Instagram / governorabbott
Instagram / governorabbott
Gov. Greg Abbott has repeatedly invoked false narratives about immigrants.
Editor's note: Assclown Alert is a column of opinion, analysis and snark.

When it comes to immigration, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott seldom lets the truth get in the way of racist fearmongering.

Last Wednesday, the day after President Joe Biden unveiled stricter asylum rules in an effort to slash border crossings, Abbott introduced a new “most wanted list” of immigrants sought by authorities for alleged criminal activity.

The list is the Republican governor’s latest effort to tie immigrants to criminality while trying to stick it to the White House over its handling of a surge in migration across the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a statement accompanying Abbott’s list of the 10 wanted immigrants — all Latinos and most accused of sex-related crimes — he tried to link their purported behavior to Biden, whom the governor accused of having “dismantled every effective border policy” of the Trump era.

“As a result, we have seen record high levels of illegal immigration, including dangerous criminals and terrorists who are a threat to the public safety of our state and our nation,” Abbott added.

Never mind that study after study has demonstrated that immigrants are less likely than U.S. citizens to engage in criminal activity. Indeed, some of those analyses even suggest immigrants’ presence in a community tends to drive down overall crime rates.

Case in point: an extensive study released last year by Stanford University found that not since 1880 have first-generation immigrants been more likely to be imprisoned than people born in the United States. What’s more, current stats show that immigrants are 30% less likely to be incarcerated than are U.S.-born white individuals, according to the report.

The reality is Abbott is less concerned about protecting Texans from criminal activity than he is with ginning up fear of immigrants for political gain.

For one, consider Abbott’s decision last month to pardon an Austin man convicted of murdering a Black Lives Matter protester. Then look at the thousands of rape kits that went untested by the state under the governor’s watch — or the escalating gun deaths that have unfolded as he and members of his party refuse to discuss meaningful gun reform.

Plus, this isn’t the first time Abbott’s painted with a broad and dangerously sloppy brush to demonize immigrants.

Consider the governor’s patently false claim when he launched his Operation Lone Star crackdown that “carnage” was being propagated “by people who are coming across the border” and his repeated use of the old white supremacist talking point that asylum seekers are “invading” the country.

Or how about the 2019 fundraising newsletter Abbott sent out urging the Republican faithful to “DEFEND TEXAS NOW” from immigrants and “take matters into our own hands?”

Abbott fired off that message a day before a white supremacist shooter entered an El Paso Walmart and carried out the deadliest attack on U.S. Latinos in recent memory. Although the governor later issued a lukewarm apology, this assclown clearly hasn’t learned an important lesson: ugly words often have even uglier consequences.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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