The Republican said Wednesday that his state will start sending buses and planes full of undocumented immigrants to Washington, in response to the Biden administration ending a controversial pandemic-era immigration policy.
The policy, known as Title 42, was introduced during Donald Trump's presidency and allowed the government to expel migrants at the border based on claims they could spread Covid.
Abbott's announcement was an obvious attempt to fearmonger about immigration (a point Sen. Ted Cruz. R-Texas, made abundantly clear). Nonetheless, he claimed his plan is meant “to help local officials whose communities are being overwhelmed by hordes of illegal immigrants who are being dropped off by the administration.”
Like Texas' recent policies restricting voting access and abortion, the new migrant plan would be cruel, a huge waste of money and potentially illegal.
If you’re asking, “Hey, isn’t forcibly relocating people from one state to another kidnapping?” You’re probably right, which is likely the reason Abbott’s team later had to clarify that the program would be “voluntary" for migrants.
It’s rich, and transparently xenophobic, for Abbott to demand the reinstatement of Title 42. He’s arguably been the most fervent opponent of Covid safety measures in the U.S. His state was the first to ease public health guidelines in 2020, right as Covid was kicking into full gear, but now he thinks the pandemic is so dire it warrants reinstating a policy restricting immigration due to Covid — a policy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called unnecessary.
That hypocrisy has been on the rise in the Covid-ignorant GOP since the CDC announced Title 42 would be phased out by May 23. Republican senators, for example, have vowed to block a Covid funding bill unless there's a vote to include an amendment that would resurrect the policy.
Abbott’s migrant plan would be part of Operation Lone Star, his expensive and largely unsuccessful attempt to curb immigration. The plan also comes at a time when he’s being encouraged to use more extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that former Trump administration officials are pressuring Abbott to label the border crisis an “invasion.” (The report aligns with former Trump immigration officials' dangerous "invasion" rhetoric from October.)
The conservative movement is revving up its anti-immigrant propaganda machine, and Abbott is quite eager to create chaotic scenes that might play well on right-wing media.