Ken Paxton Went to the Border to (Again) Blame Biden for Immigration Crisis

Ken Paxton speaks at the Partnerships to Eradicate Human Trafficking in the Americas at the 2019 Concordia Americas Summit in Bogota, Colombia.
Ken Paxton speaks at the Partnerships to Eradicate Human Trafficking in the Americas at the 2019 Concordia Americas Summit in Bogota, Colombia. Gabriel Aponte / Getty Images
Since President Joe Biden took office in January, Texas Republicans have accused his administration of creating a humanitarian crisis on the southern border with Mexico.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who fled south of the border in February to escape the deadly winter storm that left millions of Texans without power, recently took to the pages of Newsweek to blast Biden over the swelling number of arrivals on the border.

Of a recent trip he took to the border, Cruz wrote, “The conditions were, simply put and without exaggeration, inhumane.”

But on Wednesday, the inhumanity of the situation on the U.S.-Mexico border took a backseat when Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton visited Mission in the Rio Grande Valley.

Along with three sheriffs from counties in South Texas, Paxton pinned the blame on the Biden administration. The sheriffs thanked Paxton for filing lawsuits against the Biden administration over immigration policy.

Each of the three sheriffs — Jackson County Sheriff A.J. Louderback, Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon and Refugio County Sheriff Pinky Gonzalez — had to travel between 180 and 279 miles to reach the border.

Maybe Paxton couldn’t find any sheriffs actually working on the border. Either way, the law enforcement trio echoed Paxton’s concerns over the border, blaming migrants for car thefts, driving fast and straining county resources.

“We’re just a rural town with a limited budget and we are just overwhelmed with this,” said Gonzalez, whose home county is north of Corpus Christi. “We have dealt with these illegals coming through our town… but never like this.”

Paxton said, “So, there’s a reason we’ve sued the Biden administration five times over immigration.”

“So, there’s a reason we’ve sued the Biden administration five times over immigration.” - Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General

tweet this
“Tremendous harm is being done to this state,” he added. “Tremendous harm is being done to this nation. The cartels are being enriched, given the opportunity to smuggle drugs, given the opportunity to human traffic, given the opportunity to charge these people exorbitant costs for getting into our state.”

Paxton said Texas would do its “best to force the federal government to follow the very laws that they passed, and the very laws that they’re supposed to follow, including President Biden, not say that they don’t matter.”

Paxton argued that the migration uptick posed a threat to the economy and public health, seemingly recycling an old trope about migrants spreading COVID-19.

One reporter wanted to know whether Paxton met with any local sheriffs, but the attorney general only said that his team had “invited numerous sheriffs” and had met with some a day earlier.

Later in the conference, Paxton lamented a Supreme Court precedent that requires schools to allow migrant children to attend.

“It adds to our costs significantly because it’s expensive to educate kids,” he said. “These schools are now having to take on this responsibility that they didn’t know they were going to have to fund.

“It puts a lot of pressure on our school system, and it puts a lot of pressure on their ability to educate the kids that are already there when they’re having to bring in new kids, one that may not be fluent in English, so they got to deal with that … but also may not be up to par on their grade level.”

The attorney general said, “So, it definitely siphons resources from what is already a stretched system.”

Concluding the conference, Paxton issued a message to President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. “If they’re going to have this open-border policy, we’re going to be affected by it every day,” he said.

In March, U.S. border authorities apprehended some 171,000 migrants. Although the numbers began rising again last April, when former President Donald Trump was still in office, they’ve spiked in recent months.

Along with other Texas Republicans, Paxton has led the charge against the Biden administration, filing several lawsuits over immigration policy.

In a recent lawsuit, Paxton accuses the federal government of exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic through its immigration rules.

“Instead of using the [Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s] authority to prevent the introduction of covered aliens into the United States during a pandemic, defendants have chosen to take courses of action that have resulted in the release of tens of thousands of aliens into Texas and the United States,” the lawsuit says.

(Some of us are old enough to remember last month when Paxton filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against Austin and Travis County because he didn't want them to enforce mask mandates to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.)

But Biden has pressed forward with immigration reforms. On Wednesday, he called on Congress to pass his immigration proposals, including a pathway to citizenship for some 11 million undocumented immigrants, the Washington Post reports, including an estimated 3.6 million who came to the country as children.

Earlier this week, his administration announced that it would limit arrests of undocumented immigrants at federal courthouses.
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patrick Strickland is the news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's a former senior reporter at Al Jazeera English and has reported for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.