Texas Gov. vows to expand border barriers amid standoff with White House

(Xinhua) 10:45, February 06, 2024

HOUSTON, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, flanked by 13 other fellow GOP governors in the border town of Eagle Pass, vowed on Sunday that he will expand barriers along Rio Grande bordering the United States and Mexico amid his standoff with the federal government.

"As we speak right now, the Texas National Guard is undertaking operations to expand this," Abbott said at a news conference at Shelby Park, a municipal park in Eagle Pass which has recently become a focal point in the national drama over immigration as partisan fights are unfolding in the U.S. election year.

"We're not going to contain ourselves just to this park," the governor said. He didn't reveal further details.

Instead, the governor repeatedly slammed the Biden administration over recorded illegal border crossings, which he described as an "invasion," claiming the state has the right to self-defense because President Joe Biden has failed to fulfill his duty to secure the U.S. border.

"As opposed to detaining illegal immigrants, Biden has let them all loose, with no ability to accurately determine their whereabouts," Abbott said. "We've seen the catastrophic consequences of Joe Biden's open border policy."

"A state can defend itself and its citizens to protect their safety from the imminent danger that we are facing -- and from an invasion from millions of people coming from across the globe into our country, who are unaccounted for whatsoever," he said.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the news conference that they would continue to deploy National Guard troops to the border to support Abbott, local media reported.

But from the viewpoint of Texan Democrats, the Republican governors' gathering is another political show.

"This is a campaign prop. This is a photo op," state lawmaker Trey Martinez Fischer, a Democrat from San Antonio, said in a video posted on social media.

"We know you're there for gamesmanship. We know you're not there to solve the problem. We know you don't want to solve the problem," the lawmaker said.

"Quit wasting our tax dollars on political propaganda," said Eagle Pass resident Juanita V. Martinez, chief of Maverick County Democratic Party. "Abbott doesn't care about anything but boosting his Republican political agenda."

The Sunday event came one day after a convoy of protesters from the East Coast, a modest crowd waving "Trump 2024" flags according to The New York Times, held a rally in a neighborhood about 20 miles (32 km) north of Eagle Pass, vowing to "take our border back."

The Texas National Guard seized Shelby Park in January and restricted federal access under Abbott's order.

In response to the Supreme Court order that Texas cannot block Border Patrol agents from cutting wire to reach the river and rescue migrants in distress, Abbott asked state troops to install more razor wires and barriers along the border river.

The Texan governor thus successfully made national headlines, and his feud with the Biden administration is heating up over the state's right to border control. Former President Donald Trump, a leading Republican presidential candidate in 2024, has voiced his support for Abbott.

"It's primarily a political stunt by Republicans aimed at keeping immigration and border enforcement in the news," said Professor Jon Taylor, chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography with the University of Texas at San Antonio.

"They clearly have decided that immigration is their number one issue for the 2024 elections," the professor said in an interview with Xinhua.

"These immigrants ...have the right to come because they're looking for a better life," Jesus Casas, who has lived in Eagle Pass for almost 40 years, told Xinhua. "The problem here is that somehow these immigrants, by coming in a very unorganized way, cause problems at the business level here, and also with the residents."

"We need to find some common ground where everybody can help each other," Casas said.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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