Rick Perry and his lot have been funneling money to the DPS for “border” purposes for a few years now. Never has the effectiveness of this tax money ever been questioned or even measured, but it has made for great political theater for the Republicans–and political ads filmed on something that looks like the border.
Now, Rick Perry and the Republicans have declared war on Central American kids who have been escaping their home countries for a safer locale. At the same time the Republicans call it a humanitarian crisis (which it is), they’re also doing their best to criminalize these kids who are escaping cartels, poverty, and even government threats.
Unfortunately, this influx of taxpayer cash to the DPS will not get a debate or a vote in a special session of the Texas Lege, as Dan Patrick had requested. Frankly, I was looking forward to film of right-wingers talking about Latinos, in general, not to mention diseases and made-up stories whose only purpose is creating fear. Of course, I expect Dan Patrick and other Republicans to make something up as they go.
The Democratic response thus far?
“What is needed are not more “boots on the ground” or any other euphemisms for the militarization that both impacts border residents’ daily lives and is inadequate to deal with the specific issue at hand,” state Sen. José Rodriguez, D-El Paso, said in a statement last week in response to Abbott’s request.
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte added: “Washington must tackle the root causes of this crisis: weak governments, entrenched poverty and the growing power of violent criminal actors in Central America. Texans have a long tradition of looking after our neighbors in times of need. These too are children of God. State and federal government should follow suit, and partner with our faith-based organizations, nonprofits, food banks, and health providers to help these children.”
I wholeheartedly agree with both senators, but as I mentioned to a Facebook friend the other day, the only way to tackle root causes is for Washington to stop meddling in other countries’ affairs-political and economic. The influx of kids mostly comes from El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, and Guatemala; all countries whose governments are or have historically been supported by the U.S. because they elected whom the U.S. wanted (or placed in power by coup), as our friends at Latino Rebels remind us. The Central American Free Trade Agreement and meddling in these countries’ elections has certainly taken its toll to the point where cash-rich criminal enterprises easily yield power. And let’s not forget that some of these right-wing governments are quite oppressive, as well, particularly toward the poor. What do you think is the socioeconomic status of the kids coming over? So, if these governments are weak, we can definitely point to US Latin American policy as a root cause.
As things stand, there is a crisis and it’s growing. With 90,000 kids expected to come over and be apprehended by the end of 2014, facilities and manpower are already busting at the seams. As we heard recently, the Border Patrol was complaining about doing diaper duty and babysitting. If only the DPS dollars were for humanitarian aid, rather than a weak attempt at border militarization. Because all of this just seems to be another dose of Republican theater–$40 million worth of bad theater.
The Texas Civil Rights Project released this statement:
TCRP Director Jim Harrington today condemned Gov. Perry’s “typical militaristic response” to the humanitarian crisis along the border caused by the surge of 47,000 children into the country. “Perry shouldn’t make them pawns in his ongoing politically-driven antipathy toward the federal government,”said Harrington
Perry has announced plans to spend $1.3 million/week to send Texas law enforcement officers to enforce border security. He has not offered any assistance for the children who are already here or to local shelters that are struggling to house and care for them.
“Obviously, it’s important to protect the border; but it’s equally important to protect and provide for the thousands of children who are now in the country. Texas and the border states can come up with more creative ways to deal with the crisis and turning it around. It would be a better and more productive use of taxpayers’ money,” said Harrington. “We’re dealing with young children, not adults. This is not the children’s fault, and we have a humanitarian duty to them until we can figure out how to respond appropriately to the situation. They should not be victimized further by the situation into which they have been thrust by desperate parents.”
This is a good time for Rick Perry, Greg Abbott and the Republicans to do some praying, rather than preying.