Home » Ayala: Abbott created a crisis at the border so that Abbott could solve it. – San Antonio Express-News

Ayala: Abbott created a crisis at the border so that Abbott could solve it. – San Antonio Express-News

by Arifa Rana

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, joined by Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw and Midland County Sheriff David Criner, speaks with area law enforcement on border security on Nov. 4, 2021, at the Midland Horseshoe.
If you read about Gov. Greg Abbott’s about-face at the border, your head must be spinning.
First, he slowed northbound traffic from Mexico by ordering the Texas Department of Public Safety to stop every commercial truck and inspect it.
It duplicated what U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement already does and created miles-long waits at the border.
After criticism from the left and right, Abbott reversed course, declaring victory by getting what he called commitments from Mexican governors for increased border enforcement.
It’s political spin.
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When asked if the inspections resulted in any drug seizures, he chose to answer a different question in his head instead.
Texas DPS troopers inspected more than 6,000 trucks and found 20 percent had correctable safety hazards, Abbott said, noting brake, light and tire issues — because those are the only issues within DPS purview.
The Washington Post reported it blithely: “Abbott said he anticipated that these inspections had ‘saved lives.’” He offered no evidence to support that claim, nor was that part of his plan.
A photo of Chihuahua Gov. María Eugenia Campos Galván might have captured another moment of political spin.
Taken in Austin and published on the Texas Standard’s website, Campos was pictured sitting next to Abbott as he announced the end of his border charade. A photographer caught the Chihuahua governor in a side-eye look of exasperation.
A cartoon bubble over her head might as well have said, “I’m in Austin for this?” The news site El Paso Matters offered context about Abbott’s claim to have secured security measures from her.
It reported that those measures may not be any different than those in place since September 2021 and have been part of the state of Chihuahua’s existing policies.
Campos’ expression reminded me of the one Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky nervously flashed in 2019, when he was asking for U.S. military aid that was being held up by the Trump administration.
In that cringe-worthy moment, former President Donald Trump suggested Zelensky investigate corruption in his country. It was a request to dig up dirt on his presidential rival, Joe Biden.
Abbott might have claimed victory in having reached border security “agreements” with Mexican governors, but as the New York Times reported, “that aim was never mentioned in Mr. Abbott’s roll out of the inspections last week.
“Instead, he had said the inspections were part of a broad response to the Biden administration’s announcement that it would be ending a Trump-era policy of turning back most migrants at the border under an emergency public health rule, known as Title 42.”
Critics will say Abbott failed, that his nine-day border circus won him no new re-election support. They’re essentially saying his political spin was successful, too.
Abbott’s campaign strategists eventually may see that this episode galvanized their voters, even Latino conservatives and some Latino Democrats who’ve become as anti-immigrant as the rest of the Republican Party.
Abbott, the candidate, will claim victory because he collected “positive” news coverage opposing the lifting of Title 42.
Such coverage will show legal asylum seekers, inaccurately called “illegal immigrants,” being dropped off in Washington, D.C., conveniently in front of a building housing Fox News offices.
This was part of Abbott’s stunt. On Wednesday, a chartered bus in Texas transported 24 migrants to the nation’s capital, followed by 14 Thursday and 30 on Friday.
His re-election commercials will use some of the language he has used in the last few weeks. “Texas is tired of being the unloading dock for illegal immigrants crossing the border.”
It’s all political spin, political posturing. His was a stunt, a charade, a mess. All show. News sites comfortable with profanity put another four-letter word before “show.” All of it fits.
Abbott created a crisis at the border so that Abbott could solve it. It risked jobs, paychecks, produce sections and higher prices.
Here’s what to remember. Abbott has threatened to reinstate DPS inspections. They’ll happen when a poll shows the race tightening between him and Democrat gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke.
That’s because Beto can run statewide.
A newspaper journalist for almost 40 years, Elaine Ayala has held a variety of journalism jobs, including news reporter, features editor, blogger and editorial page editor. She covers San Antonio and Bexar County with special focus on communities of color, demographic change, Latino politics, migration, education and arts and culture.


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