The latest temper tantrum by GOP governors against immigrants is almost too stupid to be believed. Texas Governor Greg Abbott is leading the charge by threatening to put migrants and refugees at the United States-Mexico border in buses and send them to Washington D.C.
Anti-immigrant rhetoric from Republicans reached a fever pitch last week as the Biden administration rescinded Title 42, a Trump-era policy devised by infamous racist Stephen Miller to deny migrants the right to seek asylum in this country.
Former Trump administration officials are pushing these attacks on immigrants and are pushing Abbott to take further measures like giving state troopers and National Guard members the authority to turn back migrants. Ken Cuccinelli, a former Homeland Security official under Trump is hysterically characterizing the current situation as an “invasion” and urging states to use the “invasion clause” under the “states self-defense clause,” an insane and unhinged position.
So what’s Abbott proposing? First, he wants to institute a “zero-tolerance policy” entailing “enhanced inspection” of vehicles that cross the southern border, something he himself acknowledges will “dramatically slow traffic into Texas” and further impact logistical chains.
His most absurd and performative proposal is to provide charter buses that will send migrants from the border to Washington D.C., a taxpayer-funded antic that solves nothing and is purely meant as a move to troll the Biden administration.
The buses will make their first stop at “the steps of the United States Capitol,” said Abbott. In response to Abbott, the Texas Democratic Party rightly called his proposal “another political stunt” and said its “time to stop treating humans as pawns and create real, humane policy.”
Community and advocacy organizations joined the chorus of criticism against Abbott. The Texas Civil Rights Project said the governor is “wasting taxpayer dollars on a campaign tactic to demonize immigrants” and the ACLU of Texas added that “scapegoating migrants does nothing to keep our border communities safe.” So far at least 900 buses have been committed to the hateful effort.
Texas is not alone in pushing these sorts of performative antics aimed at Republican base voters. In Florida, Attorney General Ashley Moody said she is “going to work closely with Gov. DeSantis to make sure we’re able to do that” in regards to plans proposed by DeSantis to transfer undocumented people to Delaware. In what is a race to the bottom between Florida and Texas, DeSantis included $8 million in the new state budget just for the purpose of transporting migrants to Delaware.
Ultimately, Texas will be the first to implement this busing program and Abbott has had to backtrack a bit from his initial tough guy act. As Texas Monthly senior editor Jack Herrera noted, forcefully busing people across state lines regardless of immigration status without proper constitutional authority would be felony kidnapping under our laws. The busing will now be on a voluntary basis.
This is yet another stupid political stunt meant to distract from real issues plaguing Americans, like unaffordable housing, lack of healthcare, low wages, and student debt. Politicians like Abbott and DeSantis are empty suits without any sort of policy platform that addresses the needs of working people. What’s most disgusting, this latest busing stunt addresses human beings in a completely dehumanizing way, reducing them to cattle that can be moved around to troll their political opposition. It’s disgusting and shameful.
Thomas Kennedy is an elected Democratic National Committee member representing Florida. He tweets from@tomaskenn.