GOP Strategy, Texas Style: Praise God and Whip Up the Xenophobia

GOP Strategy, Texas Style: Praise God and Whip Up the Xenophobia

GOP Strategy, Texas Style: Praise God and Whip Up the Xenophobia

That’s what Governor Greg Abbott is doing in refusing to accept new refugees.


In case anyone was in doubt about just how ugly the 2020 election season will be, last week should have served as a five-alarm warning.

The Signal: Big-city mayors in Texas want to maintain the state’s noble position as a leading locale for resettlement of refugees. But Governor Greg Abbott, pandering to the GOP’s far-right, racist base, ignored their pleas. On Friday, Abbott became the first governor in the country to utilize new powers—granted to localities and states via Trump’s executive order last year—to bar the settlement of new refugees. In a shameful letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Abbott announced that because Congress hadn’t fixed “a broken federal immigration system,” he was compelled to reject new refugees.

As dozens of other governors already know—more than 40 have already sent letters saying their states will continue to welcome refugees—Abbott is comparing apples and oranges: People apprehended trying to cross the southern border are questioned, vetted and subjected to background checks after they arrive in the United States. By contrast, refugees are admitted into the country only after all those checks have already been carried out overseas. Their resettlement does not utilize any of the law enforcement resources that Abbott claims are currently stretched to the breaking point in Texas.

This is nothing more than a stunt designed to whip up xenophobia during an election year. It’s the kind of stunt that, according to White House sources, Trump is likely to pull soon by expanding his vile Muslim travel ban. It won’t save money, make the country safer, or help struggling communities. But it could lock in support from Trump’s base, at the cost of hurting desperately vulnerable people and shattering the reunification hopes of families.

Abbott talks a lot about how God helped him come to terms with being paralyzed following a freak accident. In 2017, he told a local NBC affiliate, “We need to listen to God’s guidance. And through each step in my recovery process after my accident, I grew closer and closer to God. And since then the relationship has even been stronger and better than before the accident.”

Last I looked, no major religion preaches the shunning of strangers, humiliation of the vulnerable, and denial of food, shelter, and sympathy to the needy. Abbott’s hypocrisy, an example of the broader hypocrisy of the religious right in the Trump era, is breathtaking.

It’s about as breathtaking as Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia’s latest effort to eviscerate the rights of workers—this time by making it all but impossible for employees of fast-food and other franchises to sue the parent company for violations such as wage theft and failure to pay overtime.

About as breathtaking, too, as the continued evisceration of half-century-old environmental protections—the latest a proposed rollback of the rights of local communities to have a say in how federal infrastructure projects will affect them, and to minimize any analysis of how these projects might play into climate change.

And the Noise? Trump trying to stir up divisions between Sanders and Warren supporters via tweet. Administration officials shifting from one phony reason to the next to justify the assassination of Iranian general Soleimani. And the ripping sound as Mitch McConnell continues to shred the Constitution in his ongoing defense of this lawless government.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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