Instagram / governorabbott
Gov. Greg Abbott puts on his best scowl and faux-military shirt at a photo-op showing off 900 feet of state-funded border wall.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has made border security key to his 2022 reelection campaign, spending state funds
to add to President Donald Trump's border wall, escalating anti-immigrant rhetoric
and jailing migrants for minor property crimes
One of the Republican governor's most frequent refrains — repeated both online
and during border photo ops
— is that the Biden administration has done "nothing" to stop a 41-year high in border crossings
exacerbated by the pandemic, natural disasters and economic instability.
While that kind of accusation may make for Grade-A Prime campaign bluster, it flies in the face of reality.
Under the Biden administration, deportations have jumped to nearly 1.3 million this year, according to a tally by immigrant-rights group United We Dream
. That's more than the 935,000 people the Trump administration deported over its four-year term, the Washington Post reports
At the beginning of 2021, the number of people in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement custody dwindled to 15,415, the lowest number in 20 years
. However, under Biden's watch, it's since escalated to 21,520, according to ICE data
While the White House stopped work on Trump's border wall, it continues to draw criticism from civil-rights groups for not enacting enough reforms — and for clinging to at least two of the prior administration's hardline policies. Indeed, some civil-rights groups have attacked Biden of betraying the immigrant community.
The White House still enforces Title 42, a Trump-era order from the Centers for Disease Control that used the pandemic as rationale for expediting the return of migrants to their home countries without the chance to request asylum.
Additionally, after a court order, the administration continues to enforce Trump's controversial Migrant Protection Protocols, which make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico, often in unsafe camps, as U.S. immigration courts consider their cases.
“The Biden administration must forcefully push back against this Trump-era legacy, which will hurt our communities for years to come by stripping away the basic human right to seek asylum and refuge at our borders,” said Tami Goodlette, director of litigation at San Antonio-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES, in a recent statement.
Not surprisingly, Abbott's Democratic challenger, Beto O'Rourke has seized on Abbott's willingness to play fast and loose with the facts about border security.
“Border communities are tired of Greg Abbott hosting photo-ops instead of of fixing the real challenges facing our border communities today, like the Abbott Tax border families will pay on their utility bills because he has failed to fix the grid,” the former El Paso congressman said in a statement.
Even so, there's no sign that Abbott is about to course correct. The governor, who faces Republican primary challenges from two extreme-right candidates, spent last Saturday at the border touting the construction of 900 feet of border wall.
“This unprecedented action is needed for one single reason, and that's because the Biden administration has failed to do its job,” said Abbott, decked out in a military-style shirt, complete with epaulets and an official-looking star emblazoned on its chest.
Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.