Echoing the “invasion” rhetoric used by a number of racist mass murderers, including in his own state, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order purporting to give state law enforcement the power to detain and return recently crossed migrants to the border.
Immigration enforcement is strictly the job of the federal government, but Greg Abbott knows that perfectly well, “testing the limits of state authority” and “stopping short of using state resources to expel migrants from the country,” The Texas Tribune reports. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas called the order “vicious and unlawful” in a statement received by Daily Kos.
“It will encourage the police and the National Guard to racially profile Black and Brown people in Texas and it could force migrants fleeing violence back into harm’s way,” the statement continued. “Justifying this effort by invoking the rhetoric of ‘invasion,’ which the governor knows fueled the 2019 El Paso shooting that killed 23 people, recklessly fans the flames of hate in our state.”
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The order is “setting up a legal and constitutional battle and establishing a dangerous model for other GOP states to follow,” said immigrant rights advocacy group America’s Voice. “It’s driven by cynical political motives. And it’s a chilling development for every family in Texas, be they immigrant, mixed status, Black, Latino, Asian or anyone else law enforcement or individuals might target because of the color of their skin or the accent they speak with.”
“Families across the state must reckon with what the news may mean for their day-to-day lives,” the group continued, “and whether they will need to carry proof of residency or citizenship or immigration status wherever they go.”
Abbott’s Operation Lone Star is reportedly under Justice Department investigation, but that probe didn’t come until more than a year after the racist program’s implementation. During that time span, Abbott and his allies have illegally jailed countless Black and brown migrants. Local advocates had long urged the federal government to intervene, saying that “if we don’t get a grip on this soon, it’s going to be really, really bad.”
Proving that point, Kinney County deputies, from one of the localities gladly participating in this scheme, boasted of “sending undocumented individuals back to Mexico” just days ago. They are emboldened because they’ve seen what they can get away with so far.
“We call on the Department of Justice to expand its investigation on the reach and legality of the extremely dangerous Operation Lone Star and to make Gov. Abbott accountable for the violation of human and civil rights of refugee families, asylum seekers, migrants, and border residents,” Border Network for Human Rights executive director Fernando Garcia said in a statement received by Daily Kos.
The organizations all pointed out the real threat of racial profiling. What’s also striking fear in the hearts of many is Abbott’s continued signaling to violent white supremacists. Under blowback, Abbott issued a half-assed apology for sending out an anti-immigrant fundraising letter just one day before the 2019 mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart. That racist gunman had used racist “invasion” rhetoric. But since then, Abbott has used that rhetoric in addition to his racist border scheme.
“This week, several Texas counties tried to formally declare that they were under invasion, apparently spurred on by noted not-actually-legally-appointed former Trump Homeland Security ‘official’ Ken Cuccinelli,” Felipe De La Hoz and Gaby Del Valle said in the BORDER/LINES newsletter today.
Abbott’s order also falsely attempts to tie fentanyl to migrants. As previously noted, available data shows that the overwhelming number of people caught with drugs have been U.S. citizens. “Only TWO publicly-reported seizures were linked to people crossing between ports of entry,” one leading policy expert said.
Mario Carrillo, Texas-based campaigns director for America’s Voice, said a fear, “especially for those of us from El Paso, is that one of Texas’ well-armed young men will heed the Governor’s militaristic call to action and take matters into their own hands. We know that threat is real and targeted at us. It has already happened, killing dozens of our fellow Texans, families, and friends.”
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