In grand and performative GOP fashion, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) did as promised – busing migrants from Texas to DC in a dig at President Joe Biden and releasing them in the Capitol, right on the steps of FOX News’ DC headquarters. It is a move that many say is nothing more than a dog-and-pony show to gin up the Republican base.
It is an election year after all, with Abbott facing stiff competition from his charismatic Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke. Despite the tens of millions of dollars at his disposal, Abbott is barely hanging onto a 2 pt lead. Time to cue the migrants, a popular GOP squirrel tactic to distract from all they aren’t doing for the people.
19 men, four women, and two children on a 40 capacity bus, 1732 miles and six states later, just to send them on their way for a Republican soundbite, headline, and photo-op.
It is a stunt that Abbott was very proud of:
First Texas bus drops off illegal immigrants blocks from US Capitol in Washington, DC.
Biden refuses to come see the mess he’s made at the border.
So Texas is bringing the border to him.https://t.co/wHZkwnD305
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 13, 2022
Oddly, it looks just like an ordinary afternoon on a DC street.
Spectrum News DC was at the scene of the drop-off, and correspondent Reena Diamante posted this video on Twitter:
Our @SpectrumNewsDC team got video of what @GovAbbott says is the first Texas bus dropping off migrants to Washington, D.C. In order to get on a bus, migrants must volunteer and have documents from Homeland Security showing they were processed. pic.twitter.com/3ptKtrWLoD
— Reena Diamante (@reenajade) April 13, 2022
Abbot’s stunt was seen as a retaliation for the Biden administration’s decision to end Title 42 – a Trump-era pandemic policy move that used Covid as justification for expelling migrants seeking asylum in the United States. With Covid infection rates and deaths continuing to decline, a reasonable nationwide vaccination rate, and the overall lack of proof that migrants contributed to US coronavirus infections, the policy was rescinded.
Five days after Biden’s announcement of the end to Title 42, Abbott sent a letter to Nim Kidd – Chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management – directing the agency to coordinate transportation of the migrants from Texas to the Capitol, and other cities.
Here’s the letter:
For an agency created to assist Texans impacted by natural disasters, coordinating the transportation of migrants seeking asylum – and using disaster relief resources to do it – is an overreach by both the agency and the Governor. The About Us section of TDEM’s website explicitly says their responsibilities are to:
“respond and recover from emergencies and disasters, and implement plans and programs to help prevent or lessen the impact of emergencies and disasters.”
I reached out to TDEM via phone and email to ask Mr. Kidd if he believed using buses – intended to evacuate Texans from disaster areas in the event of an emergency – is out of the scope of the duties of TDEM and is a misuse of disaster relief funds and resources.
As of the time of publication, there has been no response.
CNN’s immigration reporter, Priscilla Alvarez, spoke with some of the migrants this morning.
The first migrants bused from Texas arrived in Union Station in Washington, DC, on Wednesday morning, after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he would send migrants to the capital in a rebuke of Biden’s border policies. I spoke to some of those migrants. 🧵
— Priscilla Alvarez (@priscialva) April 13, 2022
When migrants are released from DHS custody pending a hearing, they are free to go throughout the United States to relocate with friends or family. They are responsible for paying for bus or plane tickets themselves. This time, however, they got a one-way chauffeured ticket on the Texas taxpayer’s dime.
Abbott diverted monies from a $2B government fund, earmarked for border security, to finance it.
This proves once again that the GOP is the party of performative politics — willing to say and do anything, regardless of legality or morality, to gin up the Republican base. It’s an example of the reprehensible exploitation of desperate asylum seekers for Abbott’s own political gain in an election year — and the actions of the Texas governor should be condemned throughout the country.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick