New Orleans We have an old saying in our work: “live by the press, die by the press.” What we always meant was straightforward. If you were just counting on the media, not your base, to win a campaign, you might get away with it once or twice, but eventually, it would turn on you, and you would lose. This might be a lesson someone should have taught Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who is learning the hard way as once again he is seeing one of his publicity power play stunts backfire on him badly.
First remember that he had the Texas National Guard doing border babysitting behind the US Border Patrol at huge taxpayer expense and virtually no charges or convictions. Then remember please only a couple of weeks ago, Abbott brought commercial traffic to a screeching halt on a number of border crossings between Mexico and the USA coming into Texas across the Rio Grande River. He had the state police set up a separate checkpoint once trucks had already cleared the extensive inspections made by US Border and Customs officials using scanners, drug sniffing dogs, and the whole nine yards. Drivers were waiting in line for fourteen hours and longer. Washington said almost nothing except telling Abbott that they had this under control, because they didn’t need to say more. Businesses on all sides of the border went hopping mad about his stunt and within days he was looking for any place he could find to hide. He tried to save face by having a couple of governors from Mexican states along the Texas border do statements with him saying they would make sure they kept inspecting, just like they had already been doing, on their side of the border. No one was buying any of this, since Abbott had to slink back with egg all over his face.
Now he’s done it again. He claimed he would send the migrants to Washington for Biden to take care of them. He chartered buses from the border to DC that are starting to arrive there. Migrants on the buses are ecstatic it turns out. The buses are filled with volunteers. They are thanking the governor for the free ride, which is helping them get closer to families and friends who had offered to sponsor them. Volunteers and immigration rights groups are meeting them. Worse for him, it plays right into the Biden administration’s plan to deal with the surge of migrants since they intended to work with state and local governments and nonprofits any way to transport and assist migrants from the border to their ultimate locations and do so in a decent manner. Abbott just jumped the gun and paid the price, once again giving himself the red ass and Texans the bill.
There’s no question that the economy and the pandemic controls that are ending now are creating record numbers of crossings at the southern border, although it’s not the numbers Abbott is claiming either. The Washington Post reports, “…of the roughly 1 million or more apprehensions at the border in the past six months, about half have resulted in people being immediately kicked back out, and less than half have resulted in people being processed by immigration authorities. The second group includes people allowed to stay in the country and apply for asylum and other humanitarian statuses. All three numbers have reached historic highs, said … the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, “but it’s not the case that everyone who comes to the border gets in.””
Abbott is running for re-election, so goodness knows what he will come up with next. Crippling businesses in Texas and paying the freight for migrants blew up his face. I’m hoping his next stunt involves giving away housing vouchers, since Texas seems to have money to burn on these pranks.