Texas Immigrants, Sanctuary Groups Blast Gov. Greg Abbott, Ask Vice President Kamala Harris for Help | Dallas Observer


Immigrants Blast Gov. Greg Abbott as 'Hypocrite,' Call on Vice President Kamala Harris for Help

Immigrants are calling on Vice President Kamala Harris to make good on her campaign promises.
Immigrants are calling on Vice President Kamala Harris to make good on her campaign promises. Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash
Hilda Ramirez lives in fear each day that she’ll be separated from her son. The woman, who has taken sanctuary at a Texas church, is one of millions of undocumented immigrants living in limbo across the U.S.

On Monday, a group called the National Sanctuary Collective (Colectivo Santuario) held a virtual press conference outlining a letter they’d sent to Vice President Kamala Harris. They’re asking Harris, herself the daughter of immigrants, to live up to the promises she made about immigration reform while on the campaign trail.

The way the collective sees it, Harris could flex her political muscle with a Democratic Senate majority or urge President Joe Biden to join the fight.

“We cannot get used to living in pain, fear and uncertainty day by day, thinking that at any moment immigration could decide to come for me,” Ramirez said in a news release. “It should be easy for the most powerful government to give me permanent status and not separate me from my son, who just last week received his Green Card. I thought the U.S. government was going to stop separating families.”

Then-President Donald Trump is remembered for his administration's controversial “zero-tolerance” border policy, which separated migrant families. But even though Biden vowed to end such separations, families have reportedly continued to get split up during his administration.

Other asylum seekers attending Monday’s press conference pleaded for help. One woman described the immigrants as “mothers,” adding that they aren’t “terrorists” or “criminals.”

The Biden administration has taken heat from both sides of the political aisle on the issue of immigration.

Republican politicians like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott complain that the White House’s border stance is too soft. Many progressive groups, though, argue that the federal government should do more to forge a road to citizenship.

"The governor has said that we are invaders. I think he has lost where his feet are." – Carmen Zuvieta, immigration advocate

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Abbott and Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Florida Republican, have each boasted of efforts to ship migrants — by bus or plane — to far-flung liberal-led locales. The moves may have scored them points among their base, but critics decry it as a cruel act of political theater. Some accuse them of using migrants as pawns, as political observers have speculated that both governors may run for president in 2024.

Over the weekend, Abbott shared a video of border wall construction taking place along Texas’ southern frontier. The Twitter post came days after he’d announced the creation of a so-called border czar to help ramp up the state’s wall-building efforts. Abbott has long worked toward a broader border clampdown. Nearly two years ago, he heralded the launch of Operation Lone Star, a more-than-$4-billion effort that’s seen state troopers and soldiers with the Texas National Guard apprehend migrants attempting to enter the U.S.

Both Abbott and his second-in-command, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, have previously been slammed by rights groups for dubbing the country’s border crisis an “invasion.” The man believed to have fatally shot 23 people at an El Paso Walmart in August 2019 referenced a supposed “Hispanic invasion” in his manifesto.

Texas GOP politicians’ “invasion” rhetoric doesn’t sit well with Carmen Zuvieta, an immigration activist who spoke during Monday’s virtual press conference.

“The governor has said that we are invaders. I think he has lost where his feet are,” she said through an English translator. “First, we’re in Texas. So, I think that he got [it] wrong as to who the invaders are.”

Zuvieta also mentioned that Abbott’s own mother-in-law was the child of Mexican immigrants, and that she'd described him as a “great man” while he campaigned for governor.

“But he was just a hypocrite,” Zuvieta continued. “He does not love human beings, because it doesn’t matter that they are immigrants. It doesn’t matter that they’re immigrants, wherever they might be from. They are still human beings, and they have dignity that he needs to respect.”
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Simone Carter is a staff news reporter at the Dallas Observer who graduated from the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism. Her favorite color is red, but she digs Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
Contact: Simone Carter

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