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For five months, Governor. Greg Abbott Buses are used to bring migrants to Democratic-led cities to draw attention to the number of people arriving at the Texas border.
he from Washington, D.C., and then expanded the bus to New York and Chicago. At least 11,000 immigrants left the state voluntarily.
But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ attempt to deploy the same tactic last week took the problem to another level, when the state flew a plane to Texas, allegedly by promising jobs, housing and services and free travel to Boston, leaving the immigrants in the island resort town of Martha’s Vineyard, about 100 miles away.Three of the immigrants are now Sue DeSantis in federal court.
In a way, Abbott and DeSantis are following a familiar playbook: figuring out ways to put immigration front and center in election season to capitalize on populist backlash. But some say the transports have brought the country’s political discourse to a new low by using immigrants as props on the political stage, not just the object of verbal attacks.
“To me, it’s just rude manipulation of people. It really aligns with our values,” said Jim Harrington, retired founder of the Texas Civil Rights Project, which has worked on immigration since 1973. “The idea that you can play with people like he did.”
Abbott’s office said Texas did not play a role in the flow of immigrants to Massachusetts. But its recent push to send migrants by bus to the home of Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington has met with similar backlash — given the vice president’s residence is located on the 80-acre scientific and military compound, the Naval Observatory.
“She’s the border czar, and we feel like if she doesn’t come down and look at the border, if President Biden doesn’t come down and look at the border, we’re going to make sure they see it with their own eyes,” Abbott Say. “And where did more come from.”
In November, Abbott was seeking a third term, while DeSantis was seeking a second. Politicians often use immigration during elections. In 1994, California Governor Pete Wilson ran for advertise Depicting immigrants crossing the border during his re-election campaign. More recently, Donald Trump’s successful 2016 presidential campaign began when he denounced Mexican immigrants as “criminals,” “drug dealers,” and “rapists.”Abbott himself stepped up “Sanctuary City” In 2017, the year before his first re-election bid.
But while these efforts depict and discuss immigration, the actual use of immigration itself has unnerved scholars and observers, who see it as just the latest in a series of collapsing norms that are eroding American democracy.
Donald F. Keitel, professor emeritus and former dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, said the latest transportation represents “a dramatic escalation in the use of immigration as a political tool and political symbol.
“One thing that’s definitely happening is that immigrants as human beings—the idea that they have needs or problems they’re trying to escape and their desire to build a new home in America—have been pushed aside by this idea. Creating a giant symbol and putting They act as moving pieces,” Kettl said. “It’s a really horrible way to treat humans, and it’s definitely trying to push human needs aside in an attempt to get political points.”
Jennifer Mercieca, a Texas A&M professor who studies political rhetoric, said that moving immigrants into the jurisdiction of political opponents follows a rhetorical strategy called “objectification,” in which people Physical objects considered unimportant.
“Immigration and its well-being and benefits are not considered in the plan,” she said. “It’s, ‘How do I use these immigrants against my adversary?'”
Abbott and DeSantis have said they want to force Democratic officials, starting with President Joe Biden, to act. But Mercieca said the procedure was carried out without any solution being proposed, which was not in line with the facts.
“These are not about policy solutions, they are about creating political spectacle. They are about creating drama or ‘pseudo-events’ that have to be reported,” she said. “They’ve got to stick to the other side. They’ve got to show they’re strong. They’ve got to win.”
Keitel said the “pseudo-events” are designed to control the narrative as both governors seek re-election and visibility, possibly in anticipation of the 2024 presidential race.
The polls show why this could be in Abbott’s favor. Over the summer, much of the political discourse in Texas focused on Uwald’s school shootings and the overturn of Roe v. Wade.recent University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll More Texans found to trust Abbott’s 2022 challenger Beto O’Rourke on abortion — and their views on gun violence vary. On the other hand, in border security and immigration, Abbott has a 12-point advantage.
But Mercieca also noted changes in how far politicians are willing to go to express their views and how much the public is willing to tolerate.
“A gimmick like what Abbott or DeSantis did would have zero meaning 10, 15 and 20 years ago,” she said. “It’s not going to resonate with a wider audience. But today’s audience likes that.”
That’s partly because cable news has become hyperpartisan, forcing politicians to take dramatic and even extreme actions to get attention.
“It’s a vicious circle,” she said. “They intensified the audience, and the audience intensified them.”
The flow of immigrants has also been likened to a painful part of American history. As news of the Florida flight spread across Massachusetts, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library posted a tweet comparing the effort to “reverse freerides” in the 1960s.
“In an effort to embarrass Northern liberals and humiliate blacks, the White Citizens’ Council of the South embarked on what they call a ‘reverse freedom ride,’ giving blacks a one-way ticket to northern cities and promises of jobs, housing, and a better life,” library account tweet.
But those jobs and opportunities didn’t exist, leaving black travelers stranded far from home.
This week, PBS aired documentary filmmaker Ken Burns’ latest project, “America and the Holocaust,” which chronicles America’s refusal to change restrictive immigration quotas to help refugees, even as millions of people lived before and after the Holocaust. fled Europe during the period.
Harrington said the use of immigration to gain political points points to a new “ruthlessness” in Texans’ perceptions of immigration. Just 21 years ago, the Republican-led Texas legislature approved a law allowing undocumented youth who grew up in the state to pay in-state tuition at public colleges. After the immigration movement escalated this month, no elected Republican officials spoke, and no major business or civic leaders.
“A lot of people sit there talking about it and bemoaning it, but where is the leadership that helped shape and shape our humanitarian response as a democracy? Where is it?” he said. “We’re broken right now.”
Texas Tribune Festival here!This year’s TribFest will be held September 22-24 in downtown Austin, featuring more than 25 virtual conversations with guests, such as Eric Adams, Pete Sousa, Jason Kinder and many others.After airing for ticket holders, anyone can watch the events on the Tribune Festival News Page. Catch up on the latest News and Free Sessions from TribFest.