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Texas Lawmaker Talks About Inhumane Border Tactics

A Texas Republican representative, Tony Gonzales, has called the current tactics used to deter migrants at the US-Mexico border “not acceptable” and urged the Biden administration and Congress to focus more heavily on legal immigration.

In an interview with CBS’s Face The Nation on Sunday, Gonzales, whose 23rd district in Texas includes 800 miles of the US-Mexico border, said that the border crisis “has been anything but humane” and called recent reports of Texas troopers allegedly pushing small children and nursing babies back into the Rio Grande “not acceptable”.

Asylum seekers go on a bus after crossing the Rio Grande River, in Eagles Pass, Texas, on 13 July.
Fifth bus of asylum seekers arrives in Los Angeles from Texas

“It’s not acceptable and it hasn’t been acceptable for two years … Everything that is happening along the border is just adding fuel to the fire,” Gonzales said. He went on to say that Texas’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott, who has come under fire from human rights groups over his controversial Operation Lone Star border security program, “is doing everything he can to secure the border”.

Gonzales also addressed the floating barrier of buoys which the state recently implemented in the middle of the Rio Grande. “I don’t think the buoys are the problem,” he said, adding, “Every single week, we’ve seen people drown. Last year, there were hundreds of migrants that were drowning. I’m glad it’s getting some attention. [I’d] much rather see the attention get focused on something else. The reality is the buoy is only a very small little portion of the river.”

The 1,000ft buoy barrier, an attempt to deter people from crossing the Rio Grande into the US, has stirred backlash from various critics including activists, lawmakers and the US Justice Department. The barrier deployment in early July came just days after four asylum seekers, including an infant, drowned in the river while attempting to cross.

In a letter to Abbott earlier this week, the justice department threatened to sue Texas if it does not remove the buoys, saying that the state’s “actions violate federal law, raise humanitarian concerns, present serious risks to public safety and the environment, and may interfere with the federal government’s ability to carry out its official duties”.

In response, Abbott tweeted, “We will see you in court, Mr President.”

Gonzales went on to criticise the “disconnect” that he is seeing between Republicans and Democrats surrounding the border crisis, saying, “I do worry [about] what’s happening at all levels – state, local, federal. What I see is a disconnect. I see distrust. I see Republicans blaming Democrats, Democrats blaming Republicans, and round and round we go with nothing getting accomplished.”

Texas state troopers watch as migrants cross the Rio Grande near the site where large buoys to be used as a border barrier are being deployed near Eagle Pass, Texas, Monday, July 10, 2023. Advocates have raised concern that the barriers may have an adverse environmental impact. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas trooper says they were told to push children into Rio Grande and deny migrants water
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He called on Congress to step up its efforts in addressing the border crisis, saying, “We can’t just wait on the president to solve things. We can’t wait for governors to try and fix it themselves. Congress has a role to play in this.”

Gonzales also reaffirmed the Hire Act, a proposal he introduced that seeks to strengthen and streamline temporary work visa programs in an attempt to address the national work shortage and alleviate illegal immigration.

“I don’t want one person to step one foot in that river illegally. What if there’s a route where they didn’t have to be smuggled in the train? What if the Hire Act got passed and people can come over and work legally, not having to live in the shadows? … Most people are coming here for one reason and that is [for] economic purposes,” he said.


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