Former Reagan speechwriter rips Greg Abbott for his 'cruel' and 'heartless' immigration stunts

Former Reagan speechwriter rips Greg Abbott for his 'cruel' and 'heartless' immigration stunts
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Like fellow Republican and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has found a way to thumb his nose at Democrats: sending migrants to northern U.S. states — a political stunt that, critics say, recalls southern segregationists of the 1950s and 1960s who would send busses of African-Americans to New York City, Philadelphia or Boston to live. Those segregationists were fond of saying that if northern liberals liked integration so much, they would gladly send southern Blacks their way.

DeSantis, in September, arranged for planes of migrants to be sent to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. And before Christmas, Abbott arranged for busses of migrants — many of them from Latin America — to be sent to Vice President Kamala Harris’ home in the Washington, D.C. area. Very cold temperatures were awaiting them when they made it to the Northeastern Corridor; Washington, D.C.’s high was only 22F on December 24. New York City and Philadelphia experienced overnight temperatures as low as 7F or 8F.

Although DeSantis and Abbott’s stunts are popular with the MAGA crowd, not everyone on the right is applauding. Veteran conservative columnist and former Nancy Reagan speechwriter Mona Charen, in a scathing article published by The Bulwark on December 27, lambasts Abbott for his “cruelty.”

READ MORE:Greg Abbott expands Texas’ migrant busing plan to Philadelphia

“On Christmas Eve in Washington, D.C.,” Charen explains, “the temperature plunged to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, the coldest on record.… And yet, the governor of Texas nonetheless decided to dump another 130 men, women and children — some wearing just t-shirts — on the doorstep of Vice President Kamala Harris’ official residence. Three buses arrived between 8 and 10 p.m., and thanks to the work of Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, the dazed and confused migrants were offered blankets and conveyed to local churches. Several restaurants donated food.”

The former Reagan White House speechwriter, now 65, continues, “So, the immigrants were OK. But without that intervention, we must assume that the bus drivers were under instructions to leave them there, in a residential neighborhood on a frigid night, wearing only light clothing, not speaking the language, and having no idea where they were.”

According to Charen, Abbott has sent 8700 migrants to Washington, D.C. in 2022, while “another 6500 have been bused to New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.”

Charen writes, “It isn’t that Abbott didn’t anticipate the coming weather…. When, in a similar attention-seeking stunt, Gov. Ron DeSantis flew a planeload of asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard, it was at least in September. To treat human beings as props when there’s a real danger of exposure increases the cruelty quotient. The two Republican governors are in a heartlessness duel. Perhaps the next step will be to shoot would-be migrants in the legs as Trump demanded in 2019.”

READ MORE: Demands surge for Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott to be prosecuted for deceptive migrant transports

The conservative columnist, who hosts the “Beg to Differ” podcast for The Bulwark, stresses that the U.S. needs sensible immigration reform — not “cruel stunts.”

“Yes, this country is being swamped by would-be immigrants, and a mature polity would address the problem with sensible reforms,” Charen argues. “But that’s not what the governors of Florida and Texas are demanding. They and their right-wing media claque are saying that immigrants are clamoring for admission to the United States only because President Biden has an ‘open borders’ policy…. They repeat this mantra even though it flatly contradicts another of their favorite talking points — namely, that the Border Patrol has experienced record numbers of encounters with would-be crossers.”

Charen adds, “The (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) reports that agents had 2.2 million encounters with illegal border crossers in fiscal year 2022 — a new record. Many are repeat crossers. If the border were truly open, the Border Patrol would not be apprehending anyone, right? They’d be standing aside and waving them on in. In fact, the constant GOP refrain about the border being ‘open’ may actually be aggravating the problem by disseminating the impression around the globe that it’s worth making the attempt to get into the United States.”

The “complicated reality,” Charen observes, is that “it is not Biden’s fault that so many people want to come to the United States.”

The columnist writes, “There was a big jump in border encounters under the Trump Administration as well…. People want to come here because: (1) So many nations around the globe are hellish and a number of those are within walking distance, (2) This is a place where people with a good work ethic can get ahead and enjoy the blessings of liberty, (3) Our immigration laws and rules are confusing. Those who object that immigrants are ‘breaking into our country’ as a burglar breaks into a home are dead wrong…. Our politics (are) poisoned by the demagogues who speak of immigrants as ‘invaders’ and warn of catastrophe if we don’t close our border. Not only are they deceiving their audience, they are coarsening it by inviting them to enjoy the suffering of others.”

READ MORE: Taxpayers footed the bill for DeSantis to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard: report

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