More Texas counties cry 'invasion' to drum up support for Gov. Greg Abbott's border enforcement
Ellis County is the latest in a list of Texas counties making similar declarations, citing increased border crossings, smuggling operations and drug trafficking. Critics say the language fuels anti-immigrant sentiments.
Ellis County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday urging Gov. Greg Abbott to protect the border from a so-called “invasion.”
It’s the latest in a list of counties that in recent months have made similar declarations, citing increased border crossings, smuggling operations and drug trafficking.
Ellis County Commissioner Paul Perry said the intent of the resolution is to show Abbott he has the support of counties far from the southern border “to use all necessary means” to protect it. Perry cited the number of migrants who’ve been detained at the border over the past year as a reason why he’s concerned.
“They’re having massive problems,” Perry said. “I don’t want that outflow interfering with us and we want to encourage the governor to use the powers he has to discourage the mass immigration that’s occurring.”
But critics are calling out the language used in the resolution. Kelly Blackburn, who chairs the Ellis County Democratic Party, said she’s worried about the impact it could have.
“Ellis County is becoming increasingly more diverse, and I just thought this language is just so xenophobic and racist and I’m just afraid people will read more into it and take action.”
In August 2019, a mass shooter drove hundreds of miles from North Texas to an El Paso Walmart, killing 23 people and injuring dozens more.
Blackburn and others have said the word “invasion” triggers memories of that event. The shooter in that case used that language when he wrote that the attack was “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas” and that he was merely defending his country.
“It scares me and it just feels like it’s an opportunity for political theater on behalf of the other side at the expense of our citizens, and I just think it’s wrong,” Blackburn said.
Since the spring, Abbott and Arizona’s governor have taken unprecedented steps to draw attention to border crossing by busing hundreds of migrants to Washington, D.C. and New York City. Supporters applaud the move while detractors say migrants are being used as political pawns.
Officials in other cities along the bus routes have spoken out too as some migrants have gotten off the buses in their towns, forcing aid groups to scramble to help them.
Back in Ellis County, Commissioner Perry said their resolution isn’t meant to target all immigrants, but rather unauthorized immigration.
“It’s not like anyone with any common sense is anti-immigration but when you’re talking two million people in less than two years, that’s a big issue and a whole lot of them are coming to Texas,” he said.
And although Ellis County is far from the border, he said he thinks the impact stretches beyond that, pointing to the number of people who have immigration holds in the Ellis County jail.
At the end of July, 26 people with immigration holds were in jail, which he said is 30 percent higher than normal.
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