On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick joined a chorus of local county Republicans in declaring an “invasion” at the Texas border.
“These people are a danger to America. Every American should be angry about this,” Patrick said in a Fox News interview. “This is the biggest danger we have to your family, to your teenager who orders some drug online and has no idea what’s in that pill and its fentanyl and it kills him.”
“We’re being attacked just as we were on Pearl Harbor,” he said.
Patrick said the Texas Legislature has already allocated $4 billion for border security this biennium. To reach that number, Gov. Greg Abbott reallocated hundreds of millions of dollars from Texas Health and Human Services Commission (which leads the state’s COVID response) and other state agencies.
Patrick’s incendiary statements came the same day a handful of Republican border counties declared an “invasion” by migrants. The conservative local officials hope the declaration will open up more legal avenues for state leaders to deport or remove migrants.
More likely, it is the latest campaign season panic about migrants that arrives every major election year and escalates in intensity in November. The mainstreaming of this rightwing rhetoric has alreadly created terrorists and victims; it was no coincidence the 21-year-old El Paso shooter posted a 2,300-word manifesto warning about a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” and its effect on Democraticic margins in the state.
The new local invasion declarations on Tuesday were also supported by Rep. Chip Roy, former chief of staff of Sen. Ted Cruz.
“You’re damn right that’s an invasion. What else do you call it?” Roy said at a press conference with the local officials where he warned about cartels, fentanyl deaths, and migrants being released by border patrol.
The number of migrants crossing and being encountered by border patrol has increased in recent years. Last year, they reached a 21-year high. Pandemic-related economic fallout as well as natural disasters accelerated by climate change have been the bulk of push factors for the migrants, who largely come from Central America and Mexico.
Compared to Trump, the Biden administration has steadily chosen to apprehended a larger share of migrants rather than expel them with Title 42, a pandemic public health order used to justify deporations. Still, Biden continues to use the public health order liberally, expelling more overall migrants with Title 42 than the Trump administration.
Last month, 53 migrants being smuggled were found dead in an abandoned tractor-trailer in San Antonio. The tragedy led to finger-pointing from Governor Abbott who blamed the deaths on President Biden and “open border policies.”
RAICES, a nonprofit immigrant advocacy group that provided legal services to the victim migrants and has long fought inhumane federal immigrantion policies, said all levels of government failed. The group said Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, Biden’s use of Title 42, and other cruel immigration policies made safe entry routes and points inaccessible, forcing those seeking asylum into dangerous situations.
Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org