January 30, 2024

U.S.A. vs. Texas: Why Gov. Abbott really matters

There appears to be, pardon the pun, a Mexican standoff between Texas and the federal government of the United States. First, a quick background via the BBC:

Republican governors in half of the US have backed Texas in an intensifying standoff with the federal government over illegal immigration.
The Supreme Court ruled this week against Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has strung razor wire along miles of the frontier with Mexico.
But the Republican has vowed to add more razor wire to crack down on what he calls an invasion.
A record 300,000-plus illegal migrants crossed the border in December alone.
On Thursday, 25 Republican governors released a joint statement of solidarity with Mr Abbott for "stepping up to protect American citizens from historic levels of illegal immigrants, deadly drugs like fentanyl, and terrorists entering our country".

It is important to note, and to their credit the BBC article does make note of it, what Abbott  is doing technically does not violate the Supreme Court decision.  The decision permits the federal government to remove the wire, it does not restrict Texas from putting up more wire. This is why states and members of congress alike are able to stand with Texas and Abbott on this issue.

Texas Governor Abbott has been the prime catalyst in the immigration debate over the last year. Yes, it was the very foundation of Donald Trump's presidential run. But over the past 12 months, it's been Abbott who has moved the needle on the issue. Not only has he tried to create a border wall, he has gotten the issue all the way to the Supreme Court which deftly, and I think rightly, did not put any restrictions on either party.  The reason I say that is because taking away national security as a first-and-foremost federal jurisdiction is a bad idea. The only reason it became an issue at all is because the current administration (among others, granted) has completely abandon its responsibility on the issue to the point of absurdity. 

Getting back to Abbott, there's still more that he's done that I don't think has been talked about enough.  I believe Abbott may end up being the single biggest contributor to Donald Trump's reelection effort because of one thing.  Abbott's decision to ship illegal immigrants from Texas to sanctuary cities has completely flipped the narrative on immigration among constituencies there that had been reliably Democratic voters heretofore. African Americans in Chicago and New York City are not happy with the massive influx of illegal immigrants. No one in those cities can remain optimistic about their own stance on illegal immigration.  These cities as sanctuaries never had to shoulder the responsibilities of their choices.  Now they do and it's a mess.

Democrat voters in these situations might vote for Trump or they might just not vote at all.  Either way it helps Trump, a lot.  Beyond those cities the optics of leftist mayors imploring Let's Go Brandon for help on the news cycle repeatedly matters just as much.  It's going to be a Trump was right on immigration epiphany for many.

My only hope is that he selects more swing state target cities for bussing these illegal immigrants.  It seems to have not backfired in terms of public opinion objectives for Republicans .where they have been bussed.  So why not expand the operation? Strategically, I think it's been pure genius.  Obviously you cannot send the migrants to places that do not claim to be a sanctuary city.  But other political opportunities exist; New Jersey, California, and Washington. Colorado, Maryland, Vermont, and Connecticut are all sanctuary states. Of those Democrat-voting states, which is most likely to flip Republican after being inundated with illegal immigrants they claim to embrace but simply cannot afford to have? Make that your next destination for these buses.

This not unimportantly also helps Abbott if he wants to run for president in 2028.  He is leading an effort now that has been embraced by many, and he is leading on many fronts as we have seen.  He would immediately become a front-running contender in the 2028 race. He bypasses both Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy as the leading candidate barring either ending up being the Trump VP selection.  I'm not suggesting I would prefer Abbott over Ramaswamy, but I would not be opposed to him being the GOP nominee for president in 2028.

Despite all that, I do not believe Abbott is taking these actions primarily for the advancement of his own political career.  I believe he is doing it primarily for the survival of Texas, secondarily because he believes illegal immigration is a truly salient issue for all of America.  The potential benefit to his own future in politics is simply a welcome byproduct for him.

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