As a fourth generation border resident who is raising my three children in El Paso, guaranteeing safety and security at our border is at the top of my priorities. Texas should be THE leader in building a safe, legal, orderly immigration system that meets the needs of our state and country. No state has more to gain or lose.
To get this right, we must lead with bipartisan solutions, not counterproductive political stunts. For decades, Republicans and Democrats alike have treated the border like a political football, opting for photo ops and bumper sticker campaign slogans instead of real reform. As a result, human smugglers and criminal networks are able to exploit and profit off of our dangerously outdated laws.
Case in point: Greg Abbott is using our tax dollars by the billions to take 10,000 members of the Texas National Guard away from their families, careers, and communities to serve as the backdrop for his photo ops at the border, even though they have zero authority to arrest or detain migrants. All the while, he has degraded their service, delayed their pay, and slashed their earned tuition benefits in order to afford their ongoing deployment. All he has done in his seven and a half years in office is pose tough at the border while doing nothing to make us any safer—the definition of a stunt instead of a solution.
When we focus on solutions instead of stunts, we can invest in border enforcement that actually works. That means more smart technology like sensors, surveillance towers, and drones that can detect crossings between ports of entry and help enforcement authorities carry out arrests. It also means additional processing capacity to allow us to more efficiently screen migrants for asylum eligibility, run criminal background checks, and quickly deport anyone who is here illegally or who poses a threat to our country.
We must lead with solutions, not stunts.
We can also deter illegal migration by guaranteeing legal pathways that better meet the needs of our families, communities, and economy. We can support businesses, reduce supply chain delays, and bring down inflation with a new guest worker program that provides a legal way for migrants to fill labor shortages in key Texas industries like agriculture, oil and gas, and manufacturing. And we can reform our family reunification system so that it no longer takes more than 20 years for U.S. citizens to legally bring family members over from other countries.
To do any of this, we must first listen to border communities — those who have borne the brunt of decades of inaction by both political parties, and who should no longer have to pay for their failures. As governor, I will ensure border residents are holding the pen when these reforms are written, and I will ensure they have a partner in the governor’s office.
That’s how we begin to finally establish a safe, legal, orderly immigration system for Texas and this country.
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