Abbott explains why Texas isn’t shooting migrants at the border

Gun Rights

It’s not exactly a secret that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has taken rather aggressive steps to address border crossings in the Lone Star State. But the Republican’s administration has not resorted to literal violence, and as The Texas Tribune reported, the governor has an explanation as to why not.

During a radio interview last week, Gov. Greg Abbott said that Texas has used every tool to control the border short of ordering officers to shoot migrants crossing over illegally, once again drawing concerns about the potential impact of his rhetoric around immigration.

In context, the governor fielded a question from radio host Dana Loesch, a former spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, who asked Abbott about boundaries and legal limits.

“[F]or the people who don’t live in border states, explain the hierarchy and the process,” the far-right media personality said. “Like, what can be done like right up to the line, where maybe they would come and say, ‘Governor, you’re breaking the law, we got to arrest you for trying to enforce the law at the border.’ Like, what is the maximum amount of pressure that you as governor can implement to protect the border?”

Abbott seemed eager to tout the steps he and his team have already taken. “We are using every tool that can be used, from building a border wall to building these border barriers, to passing this law that I signed — that led to another lawsuit by the Biden administration — where I signed a law making it illegal for somebody to enter Texas from another country,” the Texan explained. “And they’re subject to arrest and subject to deportation.”

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But then the governor went a bit further, taking note of what officials in his state aren’t doing.

“[W]e are deploying every tool and strategy that we possibly can,” Abbott added. “The only thing that we’re not doing is we’re not shooting people who come across the border, because of course, the Biden administration would charge us with murder.”

Oh. So in Texas, the GOP governor is refraining from opening fire against unarmed immigrants, not because such violence would be an abhorrent crime, but because he’s concerned the Democratic administration in Washington, D.C., might try to hold Texas accountable for such an abhorrent crime.

It’s a difficult position to defend, though there’s a related question hanging overhead: If there were, say, a different president in the White House — an anti-immigrant reactionary, for example, whose rhetoric on immigration literally echoes Adolf Hitler — would Abbott have fewer concerns about possible federal criminal charges? Might he be more willing to take repulsive steps in 2025 that he’s reluctant to take now?

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