FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 7, 2022
#WelcomeWithDignity Denounces Texas Governor’s Dangerous Stunt
Washington – Less than two weeks after more than 50 migrants were found dead in a tractor trailer outside of San Antonio, Texas Governor Greg Abbott today signed an executive order falsely declaring an ‘invasion’ and authorizing the Texas National Guard to return people seeking asylum and other migrants to the border at ports of entry. Abbott’s order is an affront to the fundamental human right to seek asylum and puts a target on the back of people perceived to be immigrants in his state.
Seeking asylum is a legal form of entry under U.S. law and the Governor’s invasion rhetoric is not only patently untrue, but it also feeds into white-supremacist violence that targets Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ people with tragic results like the mass shooting in El Paso.
“Governor Abbott’s latest attempt to take immigration enforcement into his own hands will not stop people from endangering themselves as they seek protection,” said Marisa Limón Garza, senior director for advocacy and programming, Hope Border Institute. “Instead, it will force them into the hands of smugglers. It will not increase safety at the southern border, it will create dangerous conditions for the most vulnerable among us seeking protection. Borderland communities have been welcoming migrants seeking refuge for generations and to treat those seeking aid as an invading force ignores the reality we witness daily. ”
“Once again, Greg Abbott has deployed another disgusting stunt to dehumanize immigrants and stoke anti-immigrant fear and hate in order to score political points,” said The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). “Just last week, tragedy struck our community in San Antonio where 53 immigrant lives were lost because of an immigration system that dehumanizes and criminalizes those who seek asylum within our borders. While our community mourned, Gov. Abbott blatantly weaponized this tragedy to push for the codification of Title 42 – which would inevitably put more human lives at risk of danger and death and make tragedies such as these a daily occurence. Abbott’s Executive Order is unlawful, and the Department of Justice needs to intervene by immediately and aggressively investigating Abbott’s Operation Lonestar program, its heinous civil rights violations, and the Governor’s overreach of power.”
“This is just the latest stunt by Texas Governor Abbott to scapegoat asylum seekers to advance racist, xenophobic policy,” said Amy Fischer, Americas Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA. “Seeking asylum is a right under both U.S. and international law and it is appalling that the State of Texas is attempting to undermine that right. As we continue to mourn the lives lost in the back of a tractor trailer near San Antonio, the lives lost attempting to arrive to the U.S. by boat, and the countless others who have died trying to cross the border to safety, we know that policies like these cost lives – and more often than not those are Black, Brown, and Indigenous lives. It’s time for the Biden administration to show leadership against Governor Abbott’s racist actions by fully restoring access to asylum at the border. Asylum seekers must have the ability to pursue their claims safely in communities.”
“Governor Abbott’s newest executive order is unconstitutional and will harm the people of Texas,” said Priscilla Orta, Supervising Attorney with Lawyers for Good Government’s Project Corazon. “By engaging in racist, harmful invasion rhetoric, which has no basis in reality, the Governor is going against international and domestic law. Seeking asylum is both a legal and human right – and as we saw last week in San Antonio – something people are willing to die for. We continue to stand with migrants as they seek safety in our borders, and we also note that this Executive Order is an unconstitutional blank check for the National Guard to discriminate against life-long Texans who simply ‘look’ undocumented. L4GG is dedicated to the freedom of marginalized communities on both sides of the border.”
“This is yet another example of Governor Abbott abusing public resources to make a show of his anti-immigrant credentials, similar to his closing of the border and busing of immigrants to D.C.,” said Karen Musalo, Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “Abbott wants to use the National Guard against migrants who pose no threat to us, who are fleeing violence and coming to the United States with the hope that this country will live up to its stated ideals and legal commitments to protect refugees. Abbott’s actions and hateful rhetoric, vilifying migrants as ‘invaders,’ are especially dangerous as they embolden white supremacists and stoke violence, as we have seen from El Paso to Buffalo. Instead of scapegoating immigrants to earn political points, state and local governments should follow the lead of their constituents who stand ready to welcome people seeking asylum with dignity and compassion.”
#WelcomeWithDignity’s recommendations to restore asylum are available here.
The Welcome with Dignity Campaign is composed of more than 95 national and regional organizations committed to transforming the way the United States receives and protects people forced to flee their homes to ensure they are treated humanely and fairly. To learn more and join our campaign visit: welcomewithdignity.org