Abbott’s border battle

Contact McNeely at

Contact McNeely at

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues to seem to pay so much attention to Mexico and its Rio Grande border with Texas, that he may have to apply for dual citizenship, or at least a travel agent’s license.

Among his latest gambits in his continuing effort to keep border issues hot calls for putting migrants crossing the border from Mexico into Texas onto buses to Washington, D.C.

He said that was necessary after the Biden administration said it would lift a pandemic related restriction that denied entry to migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

While the likelihood and the legality of Abbott’s bus tour proposal immediately became subjects of debate, the governor’s political point aimed at the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden was hard to miss:

“If you think the United States needs ‘em, you got ‘em — right on your doorstep.”

Abbott hopes it will work for good political points against his Democratic opponent for governor, former El Paso U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, but also a potential campaign against Biden’s re-election as president in 2024.

Abbott, a Republican seeking a third four-year this year, has made border security the top issue of his campaign. He said the federal government already provides migrants with transportation to San Antonio.

“Let’s continue the ride all the way to Washington, D.C.,” he said, at a news conference in Weslaco in the Rio Grande Valley.

For several days, Abbott has been saying that the state anticipates a huge surge in migrants next month, when the federal government lifts a public-health order known as Title 42 that has been used to quickly expel migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The latest measures escalate Abbott’s clash with President Biden over how to handle illegal immigration.

Already, Abbott has sent thousands of state police and Texas National Guard soldiers to the border to arrest migrants on trespassing charges.

The governor also has committed $1 billion to erecting a barrier along the state’s border with Mexico, after Biden issued an order to discontinue construction of a wall begun by former President Donald Trump.

O’Rourke, Abbott’s Democratic opponent for governor, belittled the incumbent’s latest moves as “stunts.”

“If Abbott focused on solutions instead of stunts, then Texas could have made some real progress on this issue over the last seven years,” O’Rourke said in a written statement.


Abbott is also hoping to end the tendency of most Texas Hispanics to vote Democratic.

“With your help, we will keep Texas red,” he told an audience of about 150 at the Witte Museum’s Mays Family Center in San Antonio. “We will ensure that we turn South Texas red,”Abbott said.

In Bexar County, where San Antonio is, that trend seems to be under way. The county’s population is about 60 percent Hispanic.

In the party primaries in 2018, about 44 percent, or 69,695, voted in the Republican primary. In the March primaries this year, 89,015, or 48 percent, of the Hispanic voters, chose to cast their ballots in the Republican primary.

As for putting migrants on buses out of Texas, Abbott can’t force them against their will. They have to have been released from federal custody, and have to be willing to go.


Willie Nelson: “Gotta Vote Again” . . .

It took country music legend Willie Nelson and his wife two tries before they could get their mail-in ballots approved for the March 1 Democratic primary.

The federal Department of Justice and U.S. Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland had already sued Texas in December challenging its redistricting of congressional districts for the next decade.

But late last month, they added charges involving a new Texas law’s changing of voting procedures and requirements, that resulted in 24,636 mail ballots being rejected.

That’s 12.38 percent of vote-by-mail ballots statewide being disqualified in March’s Republican and Democratic primary elections.

Before the new law, the usual amount of rejections was about 1 percent.

Of the 24,636 rejections, 14,281 were Democratic ballots, and 10,355 were Republican.

The new rules arise from Senate Bill 1, a controversial election law framed by Republicans as an “election security” measure, that Democrats criticized as “voter suppression.”

The March 1 primary was the first statewide election that required mail-in voters to submit either their driver’s license number or last four digits of their Social Security number with the ballot.

Singer Nelson faced issues with submitting his mail-in ballot, though he and his wife were ultimately able to correct their mail ballots.

The election was plagued with problems and confusion across Texas that resulted in rejected applications. In total, 24,636 ballots were rejected across Texas. Of those, 14,281 were Democratic ballots while 10,355 were ballots for the Republican primary.

About 3 million ballots were cast in the primaries.

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