After years of Republicans screaming about a “border crisis,” they finally got their wish, with GOP Texas Governor Greg Abbott managing to create not one, but two crises in the same week, costing businesses — and the American people — hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.
From the moment Abbott announced his plan to bus asylum seekers from the south Texas border to Washington D.C., he received immediate criticism and backlash from human and civil rights groups, Republicans, and the head of Customs Border Patrol, Chris Magnus.
“Governor Abbott is taking actions to move migrants without adequately coordinating with the federal government and local border communities in Texas, many of which CBP personnel call home. We have a shared interest in maintaining safe, orderly and humane immigration procesesses, and assistance from the state should be carefully coordinated with us,” Magnus said.
The first bus arrived in Washington D.C. on the morning of April 13th. It was a little more than half-filled with 25 migrants, all of whom were just released from Department of Homeland Security custody. The bus dropped off its cargo of refugees on the steps of Fox News‘ D.C. headquarters, and, likely as planned, the right-wing propaganda media outlet wasted no time breaking the story. Very few pictures surfaced of the arrival, with the few that were available showing just a handful of those bussed migrants. They could be seen hugging their escorts when getting off the bus.
A second bus was en route.
As the federal government continues to turn a blind eye to the border crisis, Texas will remain steadfast in our efforts to fill in the gaps & keep Texans safe.
We should not have to bear the burden of Biden’s failure to secure our border.
A second bus is en route. pic.twitter.com/LpttNUscFk
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 14, 2022
It arrived around 3:30 AM with just 14 people on board. A third bus, carrying 30 passengers, arrived in DC on the 15th. Three 40 passenger buses in three days, making the 1700-mile trek – for a grand total of 68 immigrants.
Before the first bus arrived, the bussing of migrants was called little more than a “publicity stunt.” I’m inclined to agree. An interview with Victor Rodriguez and Ordalis Heras, fleeing Venezuela with their two children, only solidified that.
The Washington Post talked to the couple when they arrived in D.C., and Rodriguez told The Post that he “jumped at the chance to take a free bus ride to D.C.”
“The truth is, they helped us. They gave us a hand so that we could arrive here, and honestly, we are very grateful,” Rodriguez said.
His wife Ordalis, speaking to the Texas Tribune, had this to add:
“We are very thankful for all the help that has been given to us. Frankly, we did not have the money to get here otherwise, so we are thankful for the help.”
The family’s final destination is New York, and the free ride to the East Coast cut their transportation costs greatly.
I reached out to the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) via email, requesting a statement from Director Nim Kidd on whether he thought busing migrants was outside of the scope of the Texas Department of Emergency Management’s duties.
“I’d like to reach out for a statement from Mr. Nim Kidd, as to TDEM’s involvement with the busing of migrants from TX to DC,” I wrote.
“TDEM was created to respond to, and help Texans recover from disasters such as flooding, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Does Mr. Kidd, as Chief, feel this may be outside the scope of TDEM duties and responsibilities? As well as a drain on resources that may best be served to help those still recovering from 2021’s power grid failure, flooding and lack of potable water from hurricane activity in the region?”
I received an email reply from a TDEM spokesperson. This is what they had to say:
“The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) responds to– and helps Texans recover from– disasters of all kinds. The Governor’s disaster declaration specifically cites ‘ongoing and imminent threat of widespread and severe damage, injury, and loss of life and property, including property damage…'”
I was directed to a Disaster Declaration signed by Gov. Abbott in 2021 and updated in 2022. In that declaration, Abbott explicitly says that by declaring border crossings a “disaster”, they are able to get federal money to pay for it. This contradicts reports that monies have been diverted from the $2B fund set up for border security, as well as from three law enforcement agencies.
While Abbott was providing free rides, the average bus ticket from McAllen, TX to DC for one individual is $415 and stops at McDonald’s seemingly to spite POTUS and own the libs. Meanwhile, a 28-hour bus ride away, 18-wheelers would be delayed up to 12 hours waiting to cross the border due to Abbott ordering additional truck inspections as the transport vehicles enter the United States, searching for human trafficking of refugees. It was a move that left truck drivers without access to restrooms, food, or water and was condemned as unnecessary, ineffective, and just more Republican grandstanding.
One of the biggest critics, former Congressman and Gubernatorial hopeful, Beto O’Rourke, tweeted this:
Abbott is the arsonist who torched the Texas economy by shutting down trade with Mexico to score cheap political points.
Now he wants credit for putting out the fire. Texans aren’t buying it and we'll never forget the chaos Abbott has caused to our economy and our communities. https://t.co/Ddc4maM37U
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) April 14, 2022
Manuel Sotelo, the vice president of Mexico’s National Chamber of Freight Transport (CANACAR) was not buying Abbott’s use of illegal immigration to justify disrupting the international supply chain between the two countries, telling The El Paso Times:
“It’s impossible to think that we would attempt to cross a person inside a truck. This problem is a political issue. It’s not about border security. The trailers that are filled with migrants in Texas don’t cross the border.”
Even the Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, a Republican, weighed in, denouncing the need for secondary inspections — when those crossing are already inspected and undergo rigorous certifications to ensure the supply chain is secure — as “political theater.”
An estimated $240M in produce was left to rot in the backs of trucks, stranded in the desert heat. Amid the criticism and backlash, Abbott attempted to save face by announcing meetings and agreements with several Mexican state governors, including Governor Maria Campos of Chihuahua, Gov. Samuel Alejandro García Sepúlveda of Nuevo Leon, Gov. Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca of Tamaulipas, and Miguel Ángel Riquelme Solís of Coahuilas. Each of the Governors vowed to increase border security in what Abbott called “historic” deals.
It seems like he took a play out of the Former Guy’s book, using vague terminology and grandiose sounding buzz words to cover his screwups.
The CBP has stated there are very few instances of commercial vehicles participating in illegal activities by bringing drugs, weapons, or undocumented migrants over the border. Trade between the two countries is vital to both economies, with hundreds of billions of dollars flowing both ways.
It should be noted that all of this chaos was created in retaliation for President Joe Biden’s announced plans to end Title 42, the program instituted during the Trump administration and the height of the COVID pandemic to limit accepting refugees as a disease prevention method. As of today, Title 42 is still in place and not scheduled to end until next month, May 23rd, to be exact.
In the course of one week, Greg Abbott spent tens of thousands of Texas taxpayer dollars to chauffeur 68 asylum seekers 1700 miles, from a state they had no intention of staying in, and to get them closer to the destinations to which they had already planned on going. It cost Texas businesses almost a quarter billion dollars in lost product and resulted in signed agreements with four Mexican Governors to engage in increased border security measures that they had already – or were already in the process – of implementing. All of this is in response to the rescinding of a public health-related policy that is still currently effective.
I’d say there’s a crisis at the border alright – and it’s all due to someone whose name rhymes with “rabbit.”
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick