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NationalTexas News

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott attacks Mexico president over immigration

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador criticized Texas Governor Greg Abbott for enacting a law that permits law enforcement to detain individuals suspected of entering the U.S. illegally. López Obrador suggested that Abbott’s motives were politically driven, aiming for a vice-presidential nomination within the Republican Party.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, López Obrador openly rebuked Abbott, linking his actions to political ambitions. He commented on Abbott’s decision to pass the new legislation, which was signed into law on Monday, stating that such measures would not win him any favors. Instead, López Obrador argued, Abbott risks losing support among Texas’s significant Mexican and migrant populations by ignoring the historical ties between Texas and Mexico.

López Obrador pledged to stand up for Mexicans and migrants against this law, noting that Mexico is already challenging the legislation, set to be implemented in March 2024. The law categorizes illegal entry as a misdemeanor and authorizes peace officers to question individuals about their immigration status, potentially leading to their expulsion.

Abbott’s office did not directly address López Obrador’s critique when approached by NBC News. Abbott defended the law, claiming Texas had to act due to the federal government’s failure to secure the border.

Furthermore, López Obrador reminded Abbott of the significant contributions migrants have made to the U.S. and criticized him from a moral standpoint, implying that his actions were not in line with religious values.

“He forgets that in the Bible it says that you should not treat strangers badly … This man knows what he has done,” he said.

He criticized Governor Abbott for sending immigrants to New York, Chicago, and Vice President Kamala Harris’ place in Washington, D.C. during winter without telling the cities that were ready to help these immigrants, many of whom are waiting for their asylum requests to be looked at.

Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, who is running for president as a Republican, passed strict immigration laws. These laws made immigrants, workers, and their families, including some who are U.S. citizens or have legal permission to stay, leave Florida.

López Obrador told Abbott that he might end up like DeSantis, who is from the same political party.

DeSantis was doing well in early polls, not leading Trump but still in a strong second place. After introducing those strict policies, his popularity dropped, López Obrador pointed out.

Trump is leading in the polls among Republican candidates for the upcoming Iowa caucuses on January 15. DeSantis, once seen as a major competitor to Trump, is struggling. His campaign might not recover if he doesn’t do well in Iowa, López Obrador suggested.

López Obrador believes Governor Abbott of Texas could face similar consequences because of his actions.

For years, Abbott has been running a border operation in Texas. He uses state troopers and highway patrol to monitor the border, stop cars to check for undocumented people, and arrest those who trespass on private property.

Those arrested have been kept in prisons turned into immigration jails and are supposed to be deported by federal officials. However, many migrants have been released because local counties didn’t charge them in time as required by law. Some have been deported even though they have pending immigration or asylum requests.

Abbott also had to stop using giant buoys in the Rio Grande meant to stop crossings because they ended up in Mexico’s territory.

Besides arresting people for crossing the border illegally, Abbott has approved a law to spend $1.5 billion on building more border walls. This is in addition to about $10 billion already spent on Texas’ border and immigration efforts.

Abbott said in his statement Monday that “Texas will take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court …”

Groups challenge law as unconstitutional

Abbott has been called out for taking over immigration control, which is usually the job of the federal government. His actions, including the law on illegal entry and parts of his border operation, are seen as a challenge to federal authority.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Texas Civil Rights Project have sued, saying the law is against the Constitution.

They argue that the law wrongly allows Texas judges to deport people, ignoring whether they have the right to ask for asylum or other protection under U.S. law, according to the ACLU.

Anand Balakrishnan, from the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, mentioned that the law could easily lead to mistakes and unfairly affect people of color, regardless of their immigration status.

In Texas, Hispanic people are now the majority over white people, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows.

The law might also face resistance in certain areas. Some local governments and police departments have mentioned that following this new law could be expensive for their communities.

In Arlington, Texas, between Dallas and Fort Worth, the police department said that the federal government is better equipped to handle immigrants and that immigration remains a federal issue, The Associated Press reported.

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