Greg Abbott: Texas returns to the fray: threats to Mexico worsen if it does not stop migration

Members of the US National Guard patrol near an unfinished section of the border wall in La Joya, Texas.
Members of the US National Guard patrol near an unfinished section of the border wall in La Joya, Texas.BRANDON BELL (Getty Images)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has once again threatened Mexico with resuming road blockades on the border that caused chaos at four international bridges two weeks ago. The measure, which consisted of eternal inspections of merchandise trucks with the excuse of controlling drug trafficking and illegal migrants, but which caused millionaire losses for companies, was suspended on Thursday night after pressure from the neighboring country and of the carriers’ guild on both sides of the wall. This Tuesday, the governor has returned to the fray after Andrés Manuel López Obrador described the Texan’s policy as “despicable” and mere “chicanadas”. “I have the ability at any time to reactivate those inspections that will slow down trucks trying to cross the border and wreak havoc in Mexico,” the Republican said on Fox News.

What the Mexican president was referring to is that this politician who sympathizes with the harsh migration policies carried out during the Donald Trump government seeks to draw attention to the November elections, where Abbott intends to be re-elected. And, beyond generating a conflict with his neighbor to the south, what the Republican candidate has achieved has been to send a message to his electorate and a hook to the immigration policy of the president of the United States, Joe Biden, using a similar strategy that it reminds voters nostalgic for the Trump era that an heir has been born. Trump was the first president to publicly blackmail Mexico with tariffs if he did not impose tighter control on its borders. Although migration continued to crowd the border with historical figures.

Abbott’s latest measures against migration have originated in response to Biden’s decision to end Title 42 in May. This regulation, adopted by former President Trump during the pandemic, in practice allowed migrants who had just cross the border on the grounds of a health emergency. Numerous human rights organizations strongly criticized the policy for being contrary to international migration rights treaties. In fiscal year 2021 alone (from September 2021 to last September), more than one million migrants were expelled under this rule.

In March 2021, Abbott launched the Lone Star operation, with which the state police combat the violence of the Mexican and drug cartels. His office claimed that the program is responsible for having arrested 13,600 illegal immigrants, 11,000 of them charged with minor crimes. In addition, 3,700 weapons and 298 million doses of fentanyl, a powerful chemical opiate that has caused an epidemic in the country, were seized. The figures, however, were questioned by an investigation by local journalists, who claim that the Abbott government is adding the results of various law enforcement agencies, some of them federal, to make the problem worse in public opinion.

Biden’s border policy has been constantly attacked by Abbott, who sees it as an open path “for dangerous cartels and deadly drugs to spread into the United States, and this crisis will only get worse with the end of Title 42 removals.” “Texas will immediately take unprecedented action to do what no state has done in American history to secure our border,” the Republican added.

That argument was key to causing the blockade of one of the busiest borders and with the largest trade in the world. And the protests of the truckers for the endless waits, of more than 15 hours in some cases, ended with trailers burning on the Mexican side of the wall. Also, private negotiations between the governors of the border states of Nuevo León, Samuel García, and Chihuahua, Maru Campos, in the face of an unsustainable break for longer, in addition to letters from the Mexican Senate and diplomatic pressure.

Last Thursday, everything seemed to have calmed down until, once again, in a television appearance on Fox News, the governor – as Trump did before on Twitter – once again resorted to international political blackmail to score some electoral point in his country. Neither the former president nor the concessions that López Obrador made by militarizing the border were able to stop an unprecedented migration crisis. And while the conflict, which has a political origin, is resolved, the consequences of the blockade will affect transit between the two countries and the economy of millions of people.

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