Democrats denounce Gov. Greg Abbott’s razor wire along New Mexico-Texas border: ‘Stunt’ that will result in damage

Democrats denounce Gov. Greg Abbott’s razor wire along New Mexico-Texas border: ‘Stunt’ that will result in damage


 USA TODAY NETWORK

EL PASO, Texas — Democrats in Texas and New Mexico joined forces this week to denounce the concertina wire installed along the Texas-New Mexico border as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s ongoing Operation Lone Star to limit crossings.

Coils of razor wire were recently installed along the Rio Grande near Sunland Park, New Mexico, which neighbors El Paso. Abbott said migrants were bypassing miles of wire and fencing along the Texas side of the Rio Grande by moving west.

“Migrants are entering New Mexico illegally then crossing into Texas,” he said earlier this month on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We are stopping it.”

The Texas Military Department said the newly installed razor wired north of Downtown El Paso across from New Mexico’s Sunland Park builds in the 18 miles of concertina wire the National Guard has laid on El Paso’s border with Mexico.

“We are now fortifying the border between Texas and New Mexico to block migrants,” the Texas Military Department said in an unsigned statement.

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Democrats blast Texas-New Mexico razor border

In a joint statement released Tuesday, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa and Democratic Party of New Mexico Chair Jessica Velasquez blasted Abbott’s move as a “stunt funded by the working Texas family’s tax dollar that will result in environmental damage, community division and injuries of vulnerable migrants.”

“It’s clear that Gov. Abbott has no plans on actually addressing our broken immigration system head on,” Hinojosa and Velasquez wrote in the statement, “but instead adding more fuel to Operation Lone Star’s dumpster fire.”

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The concertina wire strung along the Texas-New Mexico border is the latest in a string of efforts made by Abbott to stem border crossings by record numbers of asylum-seekers entering the U.S. Since August, authorities have encountered more than 2.2 million migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the latest Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics.

What began as razor-wire along the Rio Grande and morphed into a floating barricade in the middle of the river has now transformed into an interstate conflict.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In their statement, the state party chairs praised New Mexico as having “some of the most humane, people-oriented immigration laws in the country.”

“New Mexico Democratic leaders believe that everyone who comes to our country in pursuit of a better life, as an asylum-seeker or otherwise, deserves just and humane treatment, and the laws of New Mexico reflect those values,” the statement read. “Greg Abbott knows that our neighbors in New Mexico are not the enemy but is working overtime to gain Fox News airtime to cover up his proposed legislation to implement unpopular school voucher scams, imprison vulnerable migrants and their families, and his own party’s public infighting.”

Abbott told a conservative audience during a trip to New York City late last month that migrants were bypassing the miles of razor wire along the Texas side of the Rio Grande near El Paso.

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“Not only are we building a border of barriers between the border of Texas and Mexico,” Abbott said during a Sept. 27 appearance sponsored by the Manhattan Institute. “We’re also having now to build border barriers between Texas and New Mexico.”

Texas and New Mexico Democratic party leaders asserted in their joint letter that both Republicans and Democrats acknowledge that “harmful border stunts” serve only to make the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border even more dire and called on Abbott to remove the barrier.

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“Shame on Greg Abbott for using public tax dollars to uplift his dangerous approach to border security and infringing upon Texans’ and New Mexicans’ right to move freely across state lines,” the statement read. “Texas and New Mexico Democrats condemn Abbott’s razor wire fencing along our state borders and call for its removal effective immediately.”

Illegal border crossings worth the risk for some

In August, there were 232,972 migrant encounters, either arrests or detainments, at the southern border, the most since December 2002, according to Customs and Border Protection.

Customs and Border Protection officials said migrants without any legal basis to stay will be processed for removal and face consequences that include a minimum five-year bar on re-entry, loss of eligibility to access lawful pathways, and prosecution for repeat offenders.

But for many migrants, who travel hundreds, if not thousands of miles, many with their families, to get to the U.S., they may think it’s worth the risk, said Victor Manjarrez, a former Border Patrol chief in the El Paso sector and the director of the Center for Law and Human Behavior at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Adam Isacson, director of defense oversight for Washington on Latin America (WOLA), a nonprofit advocacy organization, said while there may be a lot of policies migrants have to contend with, many of them might assume it can’t be as bad as what they’ve endured to get to the U.S.

“When you compare risking your life going through a jungle, a desert, or the Rio Grande to escape living in a dangerous slum in Caracas (Venezuela),” Isacson said. “Compared to that kind of life, they probably think there’s no level of misery that these policies can impose that is worse than what they are fleeing from.”

Adam Powell covers government and politics for the El Paso Times. He may be reached via email at [email protected].

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