Abbott’s Republican rivals—Allen West, Don Huffines, and Chad Prather—have called for action on ending illegal immigration. While Abbott has publicly pivoted toward a new focus on border security in recent weeks, illegal immigration continues, and he has yet to put ending it—and incentives for it—on the agenda in one of the special sessions he’s expected to call this year.
On May 31, Abbott declared a state of disaster covering all the counties along the Texas border. However, about a month later, he revised his disaster declaration and removed several high-traffic areas along the border, including El Paso, Laredo, and the Rio Grande Valley.
In early June, Abbott took on the issue that former President Donald Trump staked his 2016 campaign on: building a border wall. Days later, he directed $250 million of state funds toward a “down payment” to start construction. Arkansas, Iowa, Florida, Nebraska, Ohio, and South Dakota answered Texas’ and Arizona’s cries for aid and sent their National Guard troops or law enforcement officers to help with border security.
At month’s end, Abbott visited the border with Trump, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Attorney General Ken Paxton, saying the border issue is now “amazing and disastrous” and pointing the finger at the Biden–Harris administration.
“It’s not just the policies of the Biden administration; it’s the fact that we aren’t doing anything whatsoever,” outgoing Republican Party of Texas Chairman and candidate for governor Allen West said in a video of his own visit to the border. “We have no control of the border of the United States of America, of the border here of the State of Texas.”
The first of multiple special sessions of the Texas Legislature that Abbott is expected to call this year will begin this week. No mention has been made yet of border security, including ending magnets for illegal immigrants such as free education and healthcare, being put on legislators’ to-do list. Texas Scorecard asked Abbott’s office if he intends to ask the Legislature to end such magnets. Our request was read four times but was not answered before publication.
Abbott’s challengers in the upcoming 2022 Republican primary for governor—West, former State Sen. Don Huffines, and Chad Prather—were also asked about such magnets.
“If Gov. Abbott is serious about border security, then Texas should end policies of enticement such as in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, along with any free, taxpayer-funded benefits,” West replied. “But most importantly, Gov. Abbott must order a full mobilization of the Texas National Guard, take operational control of the Texas border, and declare the cartels criminal and terrorist organizations in order to freeze and seize any financial assets in Texas of the cartels … and arrest any citizen or foreign national associated with [them].”
West also said building a wall isn’t enough. “A border wall is a political talking point, but not a panacea to combat the systemic issue of illegal immigration.”
“And we must not forget, Texas is the No. 1 state in America for human and sex trafficking; Dallas and Houston are tops for sex trafficking,” West continued. “Our majority-Republican Legislature needs to engage this, and Gov. Abbott needs to present a strategic plan to do so. We don’t have time to wait for 1,155 miles of border wall to be constructed.”
Huffines also replied, taking a strong stance against magnets for illegal immigrants. “I’ve been clear in my opposition to government handouts for illegal aliens, including subsidized university tuition, for years,” he stated. “Any border security plan that is serious has turning off the magnets as a key component. It is well past time for the Texas Legislature to put Texans first.”
Prather expressed pleasure that Abbott was pivoting toward border security, but he called for more action. “After our campaign has brought this and other important issues for all Texans to the forefront, we are very happy that the governor is now finally paying attention to this important issue,” he said. “We must use every tool at our disposal to stop illegal immigration, including getting the federal government to fulfill its constitutional duty of securing our border. As a state, we must put a clear end to sanctuary cities as well as eliminate any and all incentive for illegals to enter the great state of Texas, including free education and healthcare.”
“Yes, and if he puts border security on the call, I’ll be filing a bill to do so,” Hall replied.
“Absolutely,” Cason stated. “As well as in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants, for which I filed HB-1486 that never even received a hearing. This was the first bill I filed, and no other lawmakers filed anything similar.”
Despite Abbott’s posturing, illegal immigration into Texas continues. In West’s video of his visit to Roma, Texas, with a border patrol during the July 4 weekend, illegal immigrants are seen entering the state by raft in the early hour of 1 a.m. West, noting the colored paper wristbands the immigrants wore that night, called the cartel’s human trafficking “a well-synchronized, well-coordinated operation.”
West pointed out that while the 80 immigrants in the video with him were being taken into custody, more were crossing other parts of the Rio Grande.
West added, “We’ve got to have serious leadership, and that’s why I’m down here at 1 o’clock in the morning. ‘Cause that’s when you find out what’s really happening, while some people are probably asleep in the Governor’s Mansion.”