Greg Abbott unveiled his latest policy proposal in Dallas yesterday, a border security proposal that Abbott called his “Securing Texans Plan.” Abbott's proposal would double spending on border security, costing $300 million over the next 2 years. He has called for hiring 500 more state troopers and spending millions on new high-tech security equipment.
In his speech, Abbott justified his proposal by comparing the South Texas border region to a third-world country. Said Abbott: “This creeping corruption resembles third world country practices that erode the social fabric of our communities and destroy Texans' trust and confidence in government.”
His entire proposal was replete with militaristic rhetoric that characterized South Texas as a war zone that wasn't really part of Texas. In describing his border plan, Abbott said, “We must do more to protect our border going beyond sporadic surges…I'll add more boots on the ground, more assets in the air and on the water, and deploy more technology and tools for added surveillance.” He instead proposed a “continuous surge” of state troopers to the region.
Abbott's comments about South Texas are yet another example of his hostility toward the Latino community. He has refused to take a firm stance on the DREAM Act. One of Abbott's former staffers was responsible last fall's racist “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game at UT, and the Abbott campaign seemingly lied about how long he was on Abbott's payroll. Now, he's referring to South Texas as a third-world country, offensively stereotyping a region where millions of Latinos live. Greg Abbott has shown that he prefers to rely on xenophobia to provoke his right-wing base rather than reach out and include all Texans.
Understandably, Abbott's distasteful comments have provoked a major backlash across Texas.
Grassroots activists responded quickly to Abbott's remarks. The Travis Country Democratic Party helped organize a protest outside Greg Abbott's Austin office this afternoon to speak out against his offensive mischaracterization of South Texas.
Soon after Greg Abbott's border speech, Wendy Davis's campaign released a statement condemning the remarks. Said Campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña:
- “Actions speak louder than words, and Greg Abbott's actions are downright hostile. Greg Abbott's positions don't vary much from the 'stop the invasion' rhetoric we're hearing from his allies. Abbott even went as far as comparing the Texas border to a third world country. Unlike Greg Abbott, Senator Davis has a strong record of fighting for all Texans.”
Battleground Texas Deputy Field Director Daniel Lucio saw the remarks as yet another reminder that Greg Abbott is out of touch with millions of Texans:
- “Greg Abbott's plan for South Texas is both offensive and completely out of touch. By dismissing the Rio Grande Valley, my home, as a third-world country and thinking that more state troopers and investigations will fix everything, Abbott has made it clear that he has no idea what day to day life is like for millions of Texans that he claims to want to represent.
Like all Texans, people in the Rio Grande Valley want opportunities to pursue education, access to healthcare, and good jobs. Abbott and the Texas GOP have done little to address those fundamentals. But they've excelled at painting a caricature of the Valley to play to those in their base who are hostile to Texas' diverse culture and values.
Texas can do better. And the Rio Grande Valley will do its part to prove that this November.
State Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg), who represents part of South Texas, called on Abbott to apologize for the offensive remarks:
- “Republican Greg Abbott says the Republican Party is a friend of minorities, then he falsely condemns the region where millions of Mexican Americans live and work as being corrupt. Republican Greg Abbott says he wants to lead all of Texas as governor, then he defames a vital region of Texas as being a 'Third-World Country.'
What kind of Texas leader tells the whole world that the most important state in America has 'Third-World' conditions, which sends the extremely damaging message that Texans are uneducated, unskilled, controlled by drug lords and other thugs, and served by incompetent local and county governments? It shows how much contempt that Greg Abbott has for millions of his fellow citizens. With so-called friends like Greg Abbott, who needs enemies?
A true Texan always admits when he or she is wrong, and does whatever it takes to make it right. But not Greg Abbott. He is not what Texas leadership is all about.“