After the discovery of fifty-three deceased migrants in an overheated truck near San Antonio last month—the highest death toll involving migrants in recent U.S. history—Texas Governor Greg Abbott wasted no time politicizing the tragedy. “These deaths are on Biden,” he declared on Twitter. “They are the result of his deadly open border policies. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”
The Republican governor offered no such condemnation after a similar tragedy in 2017, during the Trump administration, in which ten people died. “Human trafficking is an epidemic that Texas is working to eradicate,” he said then. Abbott’s reasoning is also illogical. If the U.S.-Mexico border were truly “open,” then the tens of thousands of migrants and refugees fleeing poverty, violence, and environmental devastation wouldn’t need to risk their lives to cross—often paying coyotes and smugglers up to $10,000 for help doing so. And it’s not as if Abbott and his fellow officials have better ideas. The enhanced “enforcement” approved by the Texas legislature—barbed wire along the Rio Grande, cops outfitted in riot gear, continued construction of walls, all at a cost of $4 billion over two years—has not stemmed the record flow of migrants across the border.