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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks alongside former President Donald Trump during a tour to an unfinished section of the border wall on June 30, 2021 in Pharr, Texas. (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks alongside former President Donald Trump during a tour to an unfinished section of the border wall on June 30, 2021 in Pharr, Texas. (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Texas Gov. Abbott Plan to Bus Migrants to Washington, DC Met With Fury

"He's wasting taxpayer dollars on a campaign tactic to demonize immigrants," said the Texas Civil Rights Project.

Andrea Germanos

Progressive critics are lashing out after GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday threatened to take migrants and refugees at the U.S.-Mexico border and then put them on buses to the nation's capital as a show of political opposition to President Joe Biden's immigration policies.

"Scapegoating migrants does nothing to keep our border communities safe."

The proposal is "yet another political stunt," said the Texas Democratic Party, which called it "time to stop treating humans as pawns and create real, humane policy."

The remarks were part of a chorus of criticism from immigrant rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers that erupted after Abbott announced his response to Biden's phase-out of border expulsions under a public health order known as Title 42.

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Abbott said his administration would confront what he predicted to be an "unprecedented" influx of migrants with his own set of "unprecedented" actions, including a "zero tolerance policy" entailing "enhanced inspection" of vehicles that cross into Texas from Mexico. Doing so, he acknowledged, would "dramatically slow traffic into Texas."

Abbott also said further militarize the border with additional razor wire and container blockades at low-water crossings.

An additional step the state will roll out, the governor said, is providing charter buses to send migrants at the border to Washington, D.C., "where the Biden administration will be able to more immediately address the needs of the people that they are allowing to come across our border."

The first stop for the buses will be "the steps of United States Capitol," said Abbott.

The Texas Tribune reported that Abbott's "stunning plan" laid out at the press conference was framed in a "notably softer tone" by the governor's office afterward.

Notably, his office stated that the bus transport would have to be voluntary, and flights would also be offered. Migrants choosing the travel would need to show that they'd been processed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to a statement.

Reacting to the changes, Texas Monthly senior editor Jack Herrera tweeted: "I wonder if, between the time that Abbott initially claimed Texas would bus migrants to D.C. and this press release, someone mentioned to him that busing people across state lines against their will is felony kidnapping."

As the Associated Press further noted: "The latest orders further push the limits of a multibillion-dollar Texas border security mission that the two-term Republican governor, who is running for reelection in November, has made the cornerstone of his administration. Already, Texas has deployed thousands of troopers and National Guard members, installed new border barrier and arrested thousands of migrants on trespassing charges."

Critics of the latest announcement rejected Abbott's assertion that the policies were about protecting Texas communities, instead calling them a political stunt.

The Texas Civil Rights Project tweeted Wednesday that "if Gov. Abbott cared about border communities, he would be celebrating the end of Title 42" in addition to urging an end to Migrant Protection Protocols, a reference to the controversial policy also known as Remain in Mexico. He would also "welcome immigrants at ports of entry."

"Instead," said the group, "he's wasting taxpayer dollars on a campaign tactic to demonize immigrants."

That group's message was welcomed by the ACLU of Texas.

"Scapegoating migrants does nothing to keep our border communities safe," the group said. "The governor's priorities continue to be out of touch with what people in Texas need."

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