Thursday, Oct 6, 2022

Republicans Desantis & Abbott Steal the Headlines on the Immigration Issue

The decisions by Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida to send two small planeloads of illegal immigrants from Texas to the luxurious Massachusetts island resort of Martha’s Vineyard, and by Governor Greg Abbott of Texas to send two busloads to Vice President Kamala Harris’s residence in Washington, DC, were the most successful Republican attempts yet to bring national attention to the Biden administration’s failed immigration policies.

It is clear that the destinations were carefully selected by Abbott and DeSantis for maximum political effect. Former President Barack Obama has an $11 million vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard, while Vice President Harris said as recently as last week that the southern border is “secure” when everyone in the country has long known that it isn’t.

In addition to many Republicans, Democrat Senator Joe Manchin was quick to call Harris’s claim “dead wrong. For … the vice president, or anybody [to] say our borders are secured, that is not accurate. I’ve been there,” Manchin told Fox News.

While the high-profile destinations for the migrants being sent north by the Republican governors may have been new, their efforts to force those cities and states supporting Biden’s open border policies to share the burden is not. Governor Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey have frequently been sending busloads of immigrants to New York City, Washington, DC, and other northern cities for months.

DESANTIS PULLS OFF A PUBLIC RELATIONS COUP

Florida Governor DeSantis, however, is new to this game. His state is not directly affected by the chaos at the Mexican border, so it is not totally unfair for Democrats to call his shipment of two planeloads of migrants borrowed from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard a political stunt. However, that “stunt” was so successful at generating new public awareness about the chronically under-reported immigration crisis at the Mexican that even former President Trump was reportedly jealous of the national mainstream media coverage that DeSantis received for it.

Soon after the two flights of migrants landed in Martha’s Vineyard, they were taken to a local church which had been turned into an impromptu immigration shelter. Meanwhile, immigration lawyers from the mainland rushed onto ferry boats to the island from Cape Cod to reach the migrants, as Spanish language students from a local high school sought to serve as translators and volunteers bought new, cheap clothing for them from local dollar stores.

EMBARRASSING VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS

In Washington, DC, a Fox News team with cameras had been pre-positioned near the vice president’s residence to cover the drop-off of the migrants from Texas. White House officials were reportedly frustrated that Fox News had been alerted by Abbott’s office, but not the DC municipal government or local nonprofit organizers who generally greet migrants arriving by train at Union Station. Local volunteers eventually took the migrants from the area front of the vice president’s residence to a church, where their needs were attended to.

While the transfers of migrants were condemned by Democrats as crude political stunts, they also served as vivid examples of the hypocrisy of the Democrat-ruled cities and states in the Northeast which have proclaimed themselves to be sanctuaries for illegal immigrant seeking to avoid deportation. Liberal local officials in those cities also boasted that they would refuse to cooperate with federal immigration and border control agencies seeking to apprehend illegal immigrants.

But when the moment of truth came last week in Martha’s Vineyard and Washington, DC, these same virtue-signaling Democrat officials reacted with horror and outrage instead of welcoming the immigrants they have long been encouraging to come to this country into their jurisdictions, claiming to be helpless to actually meet the modest needs of the relatively small number of migrants dumped on their doorsteps by the Republican governors.

CONSEQUENCES OF BIDEN’S FAILED IMMIGRATION POLICIES

Meanwhile, President Biden’s open border policies have actively encouraged a record number of illegal immigrants from around the world, as well as Central and South America, to make a perilous journey to cross the southern border with Mexico. During his first week in office, Biden cancelled President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forced illegal migrants to wait outside US for their day in federal immigration court.

For the Biden administration, the deportation of illegal immigrants was no longer seen as a priority. Pursuant to instructions from the White House issued last year, deportations plummeted by 90%, which means fewer illegal immigrants are now being removed from the country than at any point in decades.

This past, April Biden ordered the end of a pandemic-related policy known as Title 42, which had allowed more migrants to be expelled, only to have that order delayed by a federal court order.

Meanwhile, the lack of meaningful border enforcement amounted to an open invitation to millions more migrants to come here from around the world. That invitation has been widely accepted. Currently, there are about 8,700 illegal immigrant border crossings a day, which is historically high. Most have taken place in the El Paso and Del Rio regions in Texas.

Border Patrol officers say they are short-handed and often vilified. Yet the current fiscal year budget which Biden signed in March cut the allocation for the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency by 3%, while increasing the rest of the federal budget by 7%.

As CBP agents are being reassigned to process increasing numbers of asylum seekers, they are no longer free to do their original job in the field. This has left the border porous to smugglers and drug cartels and exposed the small communities along the American side of the border to the hordes of immigrants passing through to the interior.

The reduced number of federal agents available to patrol the border also makes the crossings more dangerous for the migrants themselves. Nearly 750 have died so far this year trying to enter the US, many drowning or succumbing to the elements — up 200 from last year.

BIDEN OFFICIALS DEEP IN PUBLIC DENIAL

Nevertheless, Vice President Harris, whom Biden designated last year to oversee his immigration policies, and Biden’s Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas, publicly insist that the border is secure and claim that little more can be done about the migrant crisis until Congress enacts a comprehensive immigration reform bill — which the Biden administration has been doing nothing to help pass.

Biden’s open border policies have created humanitarian problems at the border since the early months of his administration. Initially, it struggled to deal with a surge of unaccompanied children crossing the Mexican border, quickly filling the available detention facilities that were originally meant to house single adults, far beyond their capacity.

Border Patrol officials then drew harsh criticism for their treatment of thousands of illegal Haitian migrants who had crossed the border illegally and then camped out in primitive conditions under a bridge, in full view of media news cameras.

Most of the current immigrants are coming from Venezuela, but US officials cannot send them back because there are no diplomatic relations between the two countries. Instead, the migrants are being released to live inside the United States. The only effort to monitor their activities is through surveillance devices they wear so that federal officials can track their whereabouts during the wait for their cases to be heard in the badly backlogged federal immigration system.

According to a Syracuse University study, asylum seekers across the country wait an average of 810 days for an initial hearing. The average increases to 900 days in New York state and 1,100, more than three full years, in New York City.

BIDEN BLAMING TRUMP FOR HIS OWN BORDER PROBLEM

At the same time Biden administration officials deny that the surge in illegal immigrants has created a crisis at the border, they are quick to blame the current problems on former President Trump’s immigration policies.

These include Trump’s border wall, whose nearly completed construction Biden halted immediately upon taking office, and the “Remain in Mexico” arrangement for those apprehended at the border which Biden canceled. Together, the two measures had succeeded in bringing the flow of illegal border crossings to the lowest level in many years by the time Trump left office. Nevertheless, Biden accuses Trump of leaving him with a “broken” immigration system.

Last week, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to the actions of governors DeSantis and Abbott by claiming the Biden administration is taking “unprecedented action” at the southern border, include the installation of new border surveillance technology and the activation of anti-smuggling task forces.

But the numbers do not support White House claims that the situation at the border has improved at all. Monthly migrant encounters, according to public CBP data, are already higher in the 2022 fiscal year than in any previous year, and they are expected to rise even further during the fall and winter months because of more favorable weather conditions at the border.

“Either the Biden administration is uninformed or they’re lying,” a senior DHS official told the Washington Free Beacon in response to the press secretary’s claim. “We cannot process the numbers flooding our borders and the administration’s solution is scrambling for ways to let people in faster.”

Currently, Democrats are pretending to be horrified by the Republican-sponsored migrant transports to northern cities in an effort to divert voter attention away from the recently successful Republican efforts to highlight the failed White House border policies.

BIDEN STILL DOESN’T HAVE A COHERENT IMMIGRATION APPROACH

In addition, immigration policy makers inside the Biden White House have reportedly been unable to agree on a coherent plan to deal with the immigration issue going forward. Biden’s proposed immigration reform legislation, which he introduced on his first day as president, was quickly pronounced dead on arrival when it reached Congress, and he has made no effort since to revive it.

According to the New York Times, officials at DHS have been pressing the White House for months in vain to adopt a plan that would allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to transport immigrants released at the southern border to the cities where they have family or other sponsors, such as Miami or Los Angeles, and where the migrants would prefer to wait for their immigration court proceedings. The DHS plan also calls for coordinating with nonprofit organizations in those areas ahead of time so that they could be prepared for the arriving immigrants.

But so far, the Biden administration has been unable to make up its minds about the proposal.

The Biden administration has accused the Republican governors of seeking to galvanize anti-immigrant voter sentiment to bring out more of its base for the November’s midterm elections. But it is unclear what the White House can do to stop the transport of migrants who plan to seek asylum in the United States and who are guaranteed that right by federal law.

Once the arriving migrants have been processed by federal officials after crossing the border and served with orders to appear in federal immigration court, they are routinely released from federal custody and are then free to travel across the country as they please. Most know they will be safe here during the months or years before they have to appear for their immigration hearings, and many won’t bother to show up because they know that federal immigration officials are under orders from the White House not to come after them.

TWO MILLION MIGRANTS HAVE CROSSED THE US BORDER

According to a Wall Street Journal editorial, since Biden took office, a record two million migrants have been registered by border officials after having entered the country illegally, and an unknown additional number have crossed the border entirely undetected.

“All of this underscores the bipartisan failure that is U.S. immigration policy,” the editorial noted. “The U.S. needs willing workers and some of the migrants are genuinely fleeing persecution. But the porous U.S. asylum policy lets too many economic migrants enter the country and claim asylum, and so they continue to come by the hundreds of thousands from around the world.”

In conclusion, the editorial observed, “A functioning political system would find some way to reform asylum rules, buttress border security, and allow more pathways for legal immigration so workers could go back and forth as the economy requires. But that would take presidential leadership that Mr. Biden won’t provide.”

BIDEN AND THE DEMOCRATS STRIKES BACK

In an angry speech at an event sponsored by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Biden complained that, “Instead of working with us on solutions, Republicans are playing politics with human beings, using them as props. What they’re doing is simply wrong, it’s un-American, it’s reckless.”

He condemned the GOP governors for interfering with the federal process for “handling” the illegal migrants “by waging these political stunts.”

Similarly, in a CBS interview, former Obama administration Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson accused Governor DeSantis of “treating people like livestock,” while defending the Biden administration’s record of immigration enforcement.

“This administration — I believe unfairly — is perceived as lax on border enforcement. In fact, we are sending back over 100,000 people a month and have been for the last two years,” Johnson said, ignoring the large number of illegal immigrants permitted to stay. Johnson also blamed the current influx of migrants on the policies of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela “who are not cooperating” with S. immigration laws.

Johnson then shifted gears by seeking to justify migrant relocations by the federal government just after he had blasted the Republican governors for having done the same thing. “We do need to move people to the interior [of the United States], but in a well-coordinated effort with NGOs and Catholic charities, state and local government, and the federal government. There is a right way to do that. It requires coordination and cooperation,” Johnson said.

In another Sunday news interview, Democrat Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said he met some of the migrants in earlier transports when they stepped off buses from the South in Chicago.

“It is pathetic,” Durban said, “that these governors are taking advantage of these helpless people, making promises to them to get on the bus and life is just going to be fine, and off they go to places far removed from [the immigration courts] where they’re supposed to be appearing under the requirements of our law.”

“Why is it when the Republicans want to enforce their immigration theories, it’s always the kids that end up being the victims?” Durban added, referring to criticisms of Trump’s immigration policies which involved the “the forcible removal of children from their parents, some who’ve never been reunited with their families. And now, once again, it’s the kids and families that are put on these buses and transported for political purposes across the United States.”

REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS WERE LEFT WITH NO CHOICE

Countering those criticism, in an interview on CNN, Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota defended the actions of the three Republican border state governors in response to the crisis that the wave of illegal immigrants has forced them to deal with.

“You’re talking about 3.4 million people just since the start of this Biden administration that have crossed the border, and they’re coming into southern states,” Rounds said. “What is a governor supposed to do? They’re trying to send a message to the rest of the country that this is not acceptable, and that their states can’t handle that type of an inflow.”

“It’s been 606 days since Joe Biden took office, and this problem has done nothing except continue to develop. This is a national problem. And yet these governors along the southern borders are the ones that are faced with trying to address it,” the senator added.

Rounds also complained about the other problems which have resulted from Biden’s open border policies. “It’s also everything else that is coming across the border at the same time,” Rounds said. “We’re 1,200 miles away from the border here in South Dakota, and yet the drug trafficking still affects our state as well. Our Native American population reservations have got huge inflows of drug trafficking coming into our state.”

EMBARRASSED DEMOCRAT MAYORS

The vicious attacks by Democrats on Governors DeSantis, Abbott, and Ducey were also, in part, an effort to hide the embarrassment of the liberal Democrat mayors of the large northern cities who now claim to be incapable of meeting the modest needs of the relatively small numbers of immigrants that have been arriving by bus from the South.

New York Mayor Eric Adams, who presides over a city with eight million residents, said last week that the city’s shelter system is “nearing its breaking point” after receiving more than 11,000 migrants since May. However, Adams also acknowledged that the federal government is also continuing to send buses loaded with migrants to New York City and other northern cities.

In Washington, DC, a federally-supported capital city with 700,000 residents, Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser also declared a state of emergency after receiving a few busloads of migrants from the southern border states. She and Adams have both asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose primary job is to respond to major natural disasters, for help in dealing with the relatively small number of transplanted migrants.

Mayor Adams suggested that the governors are busing migrants to New York City without giving those who will be responsible for them there adequate advance notice, but that is not true.

BUSSED MIGRANTS TO NEW YORK RECEIVE A PROPER RECEPTION

According to a detailed Wall Street Journal report by Carine Hajjar, on a recent day, “at 6 a.m. the expected buses from Texas had yet to arrive at Manhattan’s Port Authority Bus Terminal. But a handful of ambulances and policemen already waited on the street. An hour later, empty buses from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority lined up to transport the newly arrived migrants across New York City. Volunteers unloaded boxes into the makeshift ‘triage center’ inside the lobby of the bus terminal.

“Manuel Castro, Mayor Adams’s commissioner for immigrant affairs, and Congressman Adriano Espaillat, whose district includes Upper Manhattan and part of the Bronx, arrived before 7. At around 8, 80 migrants stepped out of the two buses which had just arrived from the Texas, one sent by Governor Abbott and another by El Paso, which has a Democrat mayor. Messrs. Castro and Espaillat shook everyone’s hand, saying: ‘Bienvenidos a Nueva York.’”

Clearly, the local officials had been given enough advance notice to prepare an elaborate reception for the newly arrived migrants.

New York City already had its own share of problems. Its hospitals were already overburdened before the influx of migrants throughout the summer, due to inadequate staffing. Finding adequate available housing in the city for the migrants was even more complicated, because the city’s shelter vacancy rates were already down to under 1%.

But New York City still has far more resources and social services available to serve the basic needs of arriving migrants than much smaller cities like El Paso and Yuma, whose local officials have found ways to meet those challenges instead of just complaining about them.

A HYSTERICAL DEMOCRAT MAYOR IN CHICAGO

Chicago is a metropolis of more than 2.7 million people and an annual city budget of $16.7 billion. Yet after just 500 migrants arrived in the Windy City. Lori Lightfoot, the embattled liberal mayor of the self-declared sanctuary city, called upon Illinois Democrat Governor J.B. Pritzker to declare a state of emergency and authorize National Guard troops to help her city deal with the “emergency.”

Given her liberal rhetoric claiming that “diversity is our strength” and “immigrants make communities stronger,” one would have expected Lightfoot to be eager to care for the additional migrants who had just been sent to her city from Texas. But instead, she attacked Governor Abbott for publicly testing her sincerity as an open immigration advocate.

Lightfoot even suggested that Abbott’s busing of migrants to her city was so evil that it had cast doubt on his Christian faith.

Her many local critics say that Lightfoot’s harsh reaction was actually an effort to distract the attention of Chicago voters from the surge in murders and robberies that have become the new normal in their city on Mayor Lightfoot’s watch.

Not to be outdone in the public mudslinging contest against the Republican governors, liberal California Governor Gavin Newsom suggested that Governor DeSantis be put under investigation for kidnapping for having arranged the flight of the 50 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

THE NEED TO SHARE THE MIGRANT BURDEN

On the other hand, Jonathan Thompson, executive director and CEO of the National Sheriffs’ Association, told Fox News that the Republican governors had acted appropriately by forcing northern cities to share at least a small portion of the burden that has been created by Democrat tolerance for the illegal migrant wave in the border states. “Welcome to the everyday problems we are facing, and you have been ignoring and that you continue to want to blame someone else for,” Thompson said in comments directed at the complaining Democrat mayors.

In addition to the burden of caring for the migrants, the mayors of these sanctuary cities are also undermining law and order by shielding the illegal immigrants from arrest and deportation. Promoting sanctuary policies attracts illegal aliens who have previously committed felonies to those cities.

The criminals know they are safe from punishment and deportation there because soft-on-crime liberal district attorneys will reduce the “immigration consequences” for the criminals, and “woke” sheriff departments will refuse to honor their obligation to turn them over to ICE. Instead, most of these offenders will be quickly released back into their communities to resume their crime sprees.

DEMOCRAT LIBERAL HYPOCRISY REVEALED

The rank hypocrisy of the liberal Democrats on the immigration issue is breathtaking. At the same time that these officials boast about their superior level of compassion for the poor immigrants whom they have encouraged to come here illegally, they refused to take any responsibility for caring for them and have removed them from their jurisdictions as quickly as they can.

You might think that the 80% white residents of Martha’s Vineyard, most of whom are wealthy liberal elitists like former President Obama, would be thrilled at the opportunity to increase the diversity of their luxurious island resort with 50 immigrants from Venezuela. Yet these liberals who have proclaimed that the US ought to welcome Central and South American migrants with open arms are now bitterly complaining because Governor DeSantis now put their sincerity of those convictions to the test.

Massachusetts Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren denounced DeSantis’s migrant flights as “cruel” and “repulsive,” but have yet to explain what exactly is cruel about sending 50 poor people searching for a better life to the famous summertime vacation haven for billionaires and celebrities off the coast of Cape Cod.

Martha’s Vineyard’s public information officer said that the immigrants’ arrival had created a “humanitarian crisis,” because there is no housing for them on the luxurious island — which is filled with empty mansions and hotel rooms for most of the year.

Democrats across the country cried that DeSantis was guilty of “human trafficking,” ignoring the fact that the Biden administration has also sent 70 secret migrant flights of its own to Jacksonville, Florida, in the dead of the night, as well as to other cities across the country.

DESANTIS AND ABBOTT REMAIN UNAPOLOGETIC

In the face of the harsh criticism by outraged Democrats, DeSantis has remained defiantly unapologetic. The Florida governor said, “All those people in DC and New York were beating their chest when Trump was president, saying they were so proud to be sanctuary jurisdictions. The minute even a small fraction of what those border towns deal with every day are brought to their front door, they all go berserk.”

In a separate speech he delivered in the small panhandle town of Niceville, Florida, DeSantis said he was happy to facilitate the transport of the 50 migrants to “greener pastures. Every community in America should be sharing in the burdens. It shouldn’t all fall on a handful of red states,” he added, as his audience cheered.

Governor Abbott was also proud to take responsibility for directing buses of immigrants to the Naval Observatory in Washington, which serves as Vice President Kamala Harris’s official residence. In a statement, he said that the more than 100 migrants were from Colombia, Cuba, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela.

In response to Harris’s “claims [that] our border is ‘secure’” and her denying the crisis, Abbott wrote on Twitter, “We’re sending migrants to her backyard to call on the Biden Administration to do its job and secure the border.”

The two governors did not appear to have coordinated their migrant transports. Abbott’s press secretary, Renae Eze, confirmed that the Texas governor’s office had previously talked with aides to DeSantis about supporting Abbott’s ongoing efforts to bus migrants out of Texas.

But DeSantis appears to have opted to organize his own, more spectacular air transport effort, which picked up 50 migrants in Texas and then flew them to Massachusetts via Florida. A statement issued by Abbott’s spokeswoman said that the Texas governor’s office had played no role in the migrant plane flights to Martha’s Vineyard, but that “we appreciate the support in responding to this national crisis and helping Texans.”

THE REACTION IN MARTHA’S VINEYARD

The small planes took off from San Antonio, Texas, and apparently made refueling stops in the Florida panhandle and South Carolina before finally arriving at Martha’s Vineyard. The flights were paid for out of a $12 million fund that the Florida Legislature had set aside to transport migrants out of the state.

Soon after the migrants’ arrival in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, said his state has “many resources for assisting individuals that arrive in Massachusetts with varying immigration statuses and needs,” and that it planned to set up “temporary shelter and humanitarian services” for the migrants at a US military base on Cape Cod.

In separate remarks to reporters, Governor Baker said, “It’s not a secret to anyone that our immigration system is broken … and states can’t fix it. Okay? So any conversation with any governor doesn’t really get me anywhere.”

The Venezuelan migrants flown to in Martha’s Vineyard were fleeing political oppression, dire poverty, and widespread malnutrition in their communist-controlled country. Venezuela’s current economic, social, and political crisis began in 2013 with the death of its charismatic dictator, Hugo Chavez. The United Nations estimates that approximately 6.8 million Venezuelans who have fled their country, tying it with war-torn Ukraine’s exodus as the largest migration in the world; economists have called the resulting migration the worst outside of war in decades.

SMALL CITIES ON THE BORDER FACING MUCH BIGGER PROBLEMS

The added burden created by sending modest numbers of these migrants to some of this country’s largest and richest cities is relatively small compared to the plight of a mid-sized city like Yuma, Arizona, located 10 miles from the Mexican border, due to the avalanche of arriving migrants. Yuma has a year-round population of 100,000, but has had to struggle, without any federal help, to deal with an influx of 250,000 migrants so far this year. The somewhat larger border city of El Paso, Texas, has also been struggling with a migrant problem of similar proportions.

Since President Biden took office, he and most of his fellow Democrats have deliberately ignored the rising complaints from those who live near the Mexican border, even though most have traditionally supported Democrat candidates. Many of the largely Hispanic residents living in the smaller American towns along the Mexican border have watched with alarm as the endless waves of immigrants pass through their territory.

Ranchers complain that the migrants have been cutting their fences, setting their animals loose, and damaging their water pipes. The public services in these small towns have been totally overwhelmed by the urgent medical, educational, and other needs of the immigrants as they pass through.

Residents of these communities no longer felt safe. They are being endangered by the criminal members of the Mexican gangs which are making a fortune through smuggling and drug trafficking over the open border.

Hunters for wild game in the area frequently stumbled upon the dead bodies of migrants who died trying to make their way to a new life in America. Another common sight is police arresting truckloads of migrants being smuggled into the country. But national and local Democrat officials supporting the Biden administration’s open border policies have no interest in doing anything in response to the justified complaints of these US citizens living close to the Mexican border.

BORDER HISPANICS ARE REACTING BY TURNING REPUBLICAN

As a result, since Biden took office, there has been a dramatic increase in local Republican voter registration and primary voting in 15 largely Hispanic-populated counties along the South Texas border. Many of the new Republicans are former Democrats who say the waves of migrants crossing through their region was a major factor in their decision to switch parties and become active in support of Republican candidates.

One of them is Rosa Arellano. In 2016, during Trump’s first campaign for president, she was a CBP officer who often testified in court against migrants who crossed the border and who had previously been convicted of violent crimes. She personally knew some of the “bad hombres” that Trump was referring to during a 2016 presidential debate in which he advocated for tougher immigration rules. Arellano also thought the ensuing criticism Trump received for that comment was unfair. “That’s when I started to open up my eyes,” she said.

The surge in registered Republicans has encouraged more candidates for public office in the region to run on the GOP ballot line, while emphasizing the winning issues of border security and immigration in their campaigns.

A few years ago, Republican candidates running for office in South Texas were extremely rare. For example, in Maverick County, which is 95% Hispanic, only one candidate had run for county office as a Republican since 2016. But this year, the GOP has eight viable candidates running in that South Texas county, and they are also receiving financial support from Republican groups like Project Red Texas, which is focused on electing Republicans to local government.

Ana Gabriela Derbez, a GOP candidate who often wears a red “Defend the Border” cap as she campaigns, is another former Democrat who voted twice for Barack Obama, but then decided to become a Republican because of her conservative views on gun rights and immigration.

WHAT UNHAPPY DEMOCRAT VOTERS SAY

Derbez says that the voters she talks to are unhappy about the use of taxpayer dollars to coddle illegal immigrants caught crossing the border and transport them to other parts of the country, while one in five local residents are living in poverty and struggling economically.

“They are having a hard time with their paychecks and with their jobs, and making ends meet and all of this help is being given to illegals instead of them,” Derbez explained. “That is a very serious issue.”

Some local Democrat officials, such as veteran Texas State House member Ryan Guillen and Terrell County judge Dale Lynn Carruthers, who became frustrated by their party’s refusal to engage on both the issues of border security and the negative impact of the Biden administration’s war on the fossil industry on the Texas economy, are now running for reelection as Republicans.

“Seeing the lack of support from the federal government has really impacted the community and they’re looking and leaning towards the Republican Party,” Carruthers explained to a reporter for the Texas Tribune.

Republican candidates are competing for the first time in local elections in other nearby South Texas counties, such as Val Verde and Dimmit, and in Starr County in the Rio Grande Valley.

Juanita Martinez, Maverick County’s Democrat Party chairwoman, says she believes that most of the area’s voters are still with the Democrats, and she is helping her local party organization to defend their incumbents against the serious GOP push.

At a recent meeting of local campaign volunteers for Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Governor Abbott’s bid for reelection in this November’s gubernatorial election, Martinez said, “Everybody knows the Republicans have been targeting the border. We’re mostly a Democratic community, so we have to work it, work it, work it. No way can we ever let even one Republican get into office. That’s our main objective: Keep Maverick County blue.”

ABBOTT BELIEVES HE HAS A WINNING ISSUE

But Governor Abbott is confident that in this election cycle, border security and immigration will be winning issues for him, even with Texas’ Hispanic voters. In April, speaking at the Texas Latino Conservatives luncheon in San Antonio, Abbott boldly predicted he would get more Hispanic votes this November than Beto O’Rourke.

There are other signs of a recent surge of Hispanic support for Republican candidates, especially in areas near the Mexican border. Earlier this year, conservative Latina Mayra Flores scored an upset win in a special election in her Hispanic majority South Texas district year to replace Democrat Filemon Vela.

Veteran South Texas Democrat Congressman Henry Cuellar, who has represented the Laredo-based 28th Congressional District of Texas since 2005, is now facing his first serious Republican challenger for his House seat in this November’s election.

A FEW LOCAL DEMOCRAT OFFICIALS ARE RESPONDING TOO

Even some local Democrats from the Texas border areas have now made immigration and border security priority issues. For example, State Representative Eddie Morales was one of the co-authors of a law passed last year that appropriated $1.8 billion in state funds for additional border security to help fund Governor Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star,” over the strenuous objections of some of his fellow Texas Democrats.

Abbott’s program has sent thousands of Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and National Guard service members to help patrol the border, and has provided some funding to help complete former President Trump’s border wall along the Texas-Mexico border.

NATIONAL POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES

Meanwhile, Republican activists such as Jason Villalba, the founder of the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and a former GOP Texas state legislator, believe that the Republican revival among Hispanics in South Texas is part of a much larger national trend which poses a serious threat to a major Democrat Hispanic voter constituency.

The percentage of Hispanics in the US population has grown by 23%, from 16.7% in 2010 to 18.7% in 2020, and now includes 62.1 million people. They also represent 18.7% of the US electorate — and currently, slightly larger, at about 11% of the total, than the total number of eligible black voters in this country.

Villalba and other Republican strategists believe that Republicans can win a much larger percentage of the Hispanic vote, especially in border states like Texas and the swing state Arizona, because instead of following an obsolete ethnic political tradition, they will “vote based on candidates that will have the best impact in their communities and in their lives. They vote for jobs, employment, security and education. Those will win the hearts and minds of Hispanics, regardless of party.”

Donald Trump began the national trend of Hispanics voters giving greater support to Republicans candidates than in recent years. If that trend continues, which now appears increasingly likely, it could easily tip the political balance nationwide, not only in the upcoming November midterm election, and but the presidential and midterm elections to follow over the next decade.

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