Does Texas Really Want To Reelect Gov. Greg Abbott After He Set $4.2 Billion On Fire In Failed Border Stunt?

Right Wing Extremism
Does Texas Really Want To Reelect Gov. Greg Abbott After He Set $4.2 Billion On Fire In Failed Border Stunt?

Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott apparently thought it would serve his political ambitions if he out-DeSantis-ed Ron DeSantis and picked a pointless fight with President Joe Biden. He decreed that Texas state police would start performing “safety inspections” on every commercial truck entering the US from Mexico. This was supposedly in response to the Biden administration lifting Title 42, a pandemic-era health order that federal immigration officials used to expel migrants (even those seeking asylum) at the US/Mexico border.

Republicans celebrate the federal mask mandate’s demise, but they still want pandemic rules for immigration in place permanently. Title 42 is still in effect until May, but Abbott wanted to prove how dangerous the lapsed rule would be to national security, while causing pain to American wallets that he assumed voters would blame on Biden and Democrats.

The stunt was a disaster and led to hours-long delays for truckers entering the state. Even Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, a Republican, said Abbott's “inspection program is turning a crisis into a catastrophe.” He further shredded the governor in an open letter:

Your inspection protocol is not stopping illegal immigration. It is stopping food from getting to grocery store shelves and in many cases causing food to rot in trucks — many of which are owned by Texas and other American companies. … The people of Texas deserve better!

PREVIOUSLY: Texas Gov Gets Very Own Blockade By Pissed Off Mexican Truckers, Good Job Well Done

Anyway, it turns out that the trucks from Mexico weren’t stuffed with drugs, undocumented workers, or even contraband critical race theory curricula. What did the state troopers find, Gene?


The Texas Tribune reports:

Over eight days, starting April 8, troopers conducted more than 4,100 inspections of trucks. Troopers didn’t find any contraband but took 850 trucks off the road for various violations related to their equipment. Other truckers were given warnings, and at least 345 were cited for things such as underinflated tires, broken turn signals and oil leaks.

Thank God, Abbott has finally stopped the scourge of oil leaks, broken turn signals, and underinflated tires. However, that doesn’t seem like the “invasion” Republicans claim is happening at the border, and it’s definitely not worth the $4.3 billion Miller estimates Abbott’s attention-grabbing stunt cost Texas consumers and businesses, "despite not catching a single illegal alien or confiscating a single gram of illegal drugs."

"However, Governor Abbott successfully persuaded Mexico states to enhance security on their side of the border," Miller added. "Both of these things are true at the same time."

That’s quite the partisan bone Miller threw Abbott.

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw tried offering Abbott the full skeleton of excuses. At a Friday news conference, McCraw claimed the reason troopers didn’t find anything worse than what plagued my first car in college is because drug cartels “don’t like troopers stopping them, certainly north of the border, and they certainly don’t like 100 percent inspections of commercial vehicles on the bridges. And once that started, we’ve seen a decreased amount of trafficking across bridges — common sense.”

Someone could possibly sell McCraw a bag of magic beans for $4.2 billion and claim they prevent illegal immigration and border trafficking.

However, the federal government actually exists, and US Customs and Border Protection already rigorously inspects commercial cargo coming from Mexico. CBP considers DPS’s efforts redundant and "unnecessary.”

The state inspections created a backlog of 18-wheelers on both sides of the border, with truckers reporting delays of several hours up to a few days, when it usually takes between 20 minutes and a couple of hours for commercial trucks to cross after they’ve been inspected by CBP. The delays also resulted in rotten produce and lost business for grocers.

There’s that, but did it help Abbott politically? That’s what matters most if you’re a total sociopath.

Recent polls show Democrat Beto O’Rourke closing in on Abbott in this year’s gubernatorial race. O’Rourke was down 15 points in December and is now just two points behind Abbott. We don’t want to get our hopes up too high. Betomania wasn’t enough to defeat Ted Cruz in 2018 during a blue wave election, and 2022 is far less friendly terrain for Democrats. But if anyone deserves to lose their re-election campaign, it’s Greg Abbott ... oh, and Ron DeSantis ... and Brian Kemp.

[LMT / Texas Tribune]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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