Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and former Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke faced off Friday, September 30 for a one hour televised debate in the Rio Grande Valley—the epicenter of America’s illegal immigration crisis under President Joe Biden.
It was no surprise that illegal immigration was the debate’s foremost topic. And the way the issue played out on the debate stage bodes ill for Democrats nationally.
Gov. Abbott touted his record in using state assets—both the National Guard and state police in a combined effort known as Operation Lone Star—to deal with the record numbers of people breaking U.S. immigration law by coming north, as well as the increasing flow of deadly drugs, such as fentanyl.
O’Rourke countered with the risible claim that the border chaos is Abbott’s fault (though $4 billion in Texas taxpayer dollars has been spent under Abbott, the flow of illegal aliens keeps increasing). O’Rourke was harshly critical of Abbott’s initiative to bus illegal immigrants to large self-proclaimed sanctuary cities across the nation such as New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
Instead, O’Rourke said that people should be able to come to America to work, as well as to seek asylum. He even suggested that Texas have its own guest worker program.
In short, O’Rourke voiced an open border policy that the Biden administration has put into practice, while not actually admitting to the policy. O’Rourke even said that the chaos on the border wasn’t Biden’s fault—it was Abbott’s fault.
Abbott responded that O’Rourke was suggesting federal policy changes—things he might have voted on had he won the U.S. Senate race in 2018. Instead, Abbott maintained, it was the primary duty of a governor to do all he can to safeguard state residents against crime and illegal drugs caused by an open border while alleviating the strain on local communities by busing would-be migrants to larger cities better equipped to handle large numbers of people. Abbott also noted that Operation Lone Star had seized enough fentanyl to kill millions of Texans.
Nationally, drug overdoses killed a record number of people last year—107,000—of whom the majority were killed by fentanyl poisoning. More people were killed last year by drugs than have died in all of America’s wars and military actions since World War II.
As O’Rourke was taking heat on an issue that polls clearly show is a weak spot for him, he countered by claiming that Abbott’s hateful words on immigration will get people killed. He further claimed that Abbott’s busing of illegal immigrants to Democratic-led sanctuary cities was the “kind of stunt we expect from Abbott.”
Abbott responded by noting that El Paso, with a Democratic mayor and city council (O’Rourke was once a city councilman there) has sent more buses of migrants to other cities than has the state of Texas under Abbott.
The remainder of the debate focused on gun control and school safety (about 10 minutes), abortion (five minutes), defund the police and rising crime (four minutes), the power grid (five minutes), and closed on education and property taxes.
That the debate was dominated by the illegal immigration crisis unleashed by Pres. Biden’s sudden reversal of former President Donald Trump’s policies doesn’t bode well for Democrats nationally.
Rourke’s attempts to blame Abbott for Biden’s immigration mess fell flat. Further, O’Rourke and the Democrats support open borders—even as they refuse to take responsibility for the consequences of their policies.
Voters are likely to render a harsh verdict on Biden’s unsecured border this November.