Editorial: Now Texas Gov. Abbott wants to build a border wall. No, really, stop laughing
One of the first actions President Biden took when he entered office nearly six months ago was to halt construction of his predecessor’s planned wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a project as inane in its reasoning as in its scope. Now Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has donned former President Trump’s mantle of foolishness and announced that if the Biden administration won’t build the wall, well, dagnabit, Texas will! (No, not his actual words.)
Exactly how Abbott plans to do this remains unclear, given the federal environmental regulations the Trump administration could ignore but the state can’t, and the amount of private land the state would have to commandeer (government overreach, anyone?) to build the wall. Two years ago, 162 miles of fencing the Trump administration planned to build in Texas included 144 miles of privately-owned land. What will those sales and condemnation proceedings now cost Texas taxpayers? Well, the nation will have to wait for such niggling details. Next week, the governor says, all will be told.
Vice President Harris’ trip to Guatemala and Mexico shows the Biden administration understands that addressing unsanctioned migration is harder than building a wall.
Poor Texas. Californians can’t mock too much, however. Caitlyn Jenner, who is among the candidates hoping to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom should voters decide to recall him, told ABC’s “The View” on Wednesday that she, too, as governor “would close the southern border.” She added, “I would on all state lands finish the border wall.”
Federal walls and fences already cover 105 miles of the 140-mile California-Mexico border, and whatever Gov. Jenner might add to that would be minimal, given that the state owns virtually no land at the border (and good luck getting funding from the state Legislature). It’s a silly policy position but perhaps a good sound bite for Trumpian immigration hardliners who, we note, are not a very large group in the California electorate. But Jenner is entitled to her electoral strategy.
Bizarrely, Jenner also said in the same interview that she would do “the best job we can do in protecting our Eastern Front.” Well, that’s good news. Can’t be too careful about those folks from Arizona and Nevada.
This is political posturing, of course. States should not be building defensive barriers along national borders. And local authorities also shouldn’t involve themselves in enforcing federal immigration laws because it leads immigrant communities to avoid reporting crimes either as victims or witnesses. Nevertheless, Abbott said that “individuals who enter Texas illegally will be subject to arrest and confinement for trespassing.” Trespassing on whose property? And how is immigration status germane to trespassing codes?
The nation faces significant issues with immigration, particularly enforcement. According to fresh data from the Customs and Border Protection, apprehensions along the southern border — a proxy for measuring illegal immigration — are the highest in recent years, and the Biden administration continues to follow some of the Trump administration’s more draconian measures, including summarily returning people to Mexico without affording them the chance to pursue legal options for seeking to remain in the United States.
Meanwhile, at the beginning of June, Abbott ordered the closure of state-licensed facilities through which 52 organizations care for unaccompanied minors under contract with the federal government. The federal government has gone to court to fight the order, but if Abbott succeeds, that will throw into limbo living spaces for hundreds of unaccompanied minors, potentially forcing them to remain for longer periods of time in border detention facilities not suitable for the task. Exactly what problem does Abbott think such a cruel policy will solve?
Enough of this silliness. This country will not find a way to resolve its considerable problems, including immigration policies and enforcement, so long as political actors mire themselves in theatrics and recalcitrant posturing.
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