O’Rourke denounces Abbott’s bridge policy as a ‘fabricated stunt’

EL PASO — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke on Friday slammed Gov. Greg Abbott’s “enhanced” border inspections as a “fabricated stunt” and described his opponent’s decision to solicit Mexican border governors to detail their security plans as “disrespectful” and “blackmail.”

Governors of the four Mexican border states hit by days of grumpy commercial traffic, a foreclosure effect of Abbott’s order to step up vehicle inspections to ban smuggling, have come forward in recent days to explain their own measures border security and, at least once, proposed new ones to roll back Abbott.

“These governors had no choice,” O’Rourke said, because Abbott “put a gun to their head and effectively tried to shut down their state economies by closing our ports of entry.”

“It was disrespectful to do to someone who should be one of our greatest partners,” he added.

O’Rourke spoke to reporters while standing with the Bridge of the Americas, one of the largest ports of entry between Texas and Chihuahua, in the backdrop.

On Friday, the last of four Mexican governors met with Abbott and detailed plans underway to secure the Tamaulipas border, one of the most dangerous, overrun by criminal groups. Governor Francisco Javier Cabeza de Vaca was the latest of the governors to interrupt Holy Week, a sacred time Mexicans spend with their families, to meet Abbott.

Of the four governors, only the governor of Nuevo León, Samuel Alejandro García Sepúlveda, agreed to set up new checkpoints for commercial trucks manned by the local, state, and Mexican National Guard. The other three governors reiterated existing security plans that are already in place.

“It was blackmail,” O’Rourke said. “Blackmail against companies in Mexico. Blackmail against businesses along the border here in communities like El Paso, against people in Texas.

Some Mexican commentators and analysts viewed Mexican governors aligning themselves with Abbott with “shock,” said Javier Garza, a journalist and radio commentator in the state of Coahuila.

“Abbott is one of the main creators of the climate of fear of undocumented immigrants for electoral purposes,” he said. “It’s a shame that he can affect the economies of both countries just to get votes. If a Mexican politician did that, he would be on fire.

Abbott’s campaign spokesman Mark Miner responded that border security agreements between Abbott and Mexican governors “will establish a new and unprecedented level of security in the face of the border crisis created by the Biden administration.”

During the press conference, O’Rourke noted that Department of Public Safety inspectors have limited responsibility on international bridges and are not allowed to “even look inside the cargo…there is no There was therefore no ability to detect drug trafficking or human trafficking, even if it took place at these ports of entry. … [Abbott] did nothing to improve the safety and security of El Paso, Laredo, Pharr, for any of our border communities in the state of Texas or the United States of America.

“So who benefited? Greg Abbott got his five minutes on Fox News trying to get tough on border communities like ours,” O’Rourke said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott returns his wheelchair after greeting Texas DPS officers...

As he goes on the offensive against his opponent in the November election, O’Rourke is careful to explain that he hasn’t flip-flopped on his opposition to Title 42, the rule of pandemic era that allows migrants to be deported immediately. when crossing the US border.

“Title 42 is bad policy,” O’Rourke said. But he said after talking to border mayors, county judges and sheriffs, he saw that “they’ve had very little communication from the Biden administration.” O’Rourke said he wanted to know what the plan was to end the policy smoothly.

“We are looking for an expedited asylum processing system,” he said. “We are looking for a greater capacity for short-term detention, efficient and rapid processing of these asylum applications. We expect the administration to listen to frontier leaders who understand this issue better than anyone, but we need to end Title 42.”

Miner responded that the fact that O’Rourke “changes his stance on Title 42 daily should disqualify him from the gubernatorial race. He embarrasses himself with daily flip-flops.

Commercial traffic at a Laredo border crossing in late 2019.

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