The real health experts – not the internet phonies – say the best defense against the spread of COVID-19, besides vaccines, is masking. So why did Gov. Greg Abbott order a crackdown on immigrants as an alleged protection against COVID and refuse to let school districts impose mask requirements as fall classes resume on campuses?
This is because Abbott is more interested in winning reelection next year than he is in protecting the school children and educators of Texas and their local communities. And he knows the votes of the science-deniers who are still pretending the pandemic is a liberal conspiracy and the fearful Texans who blame immigrants for all their troubles are important to his reelection prospects. That is why he continues to court them at every opportunity.
If the governor really cared about solving the immigration problem, he would insist that his partisan allies in Congress, beginning with the two U.S. senators from Texas, take steps to finally enact a fair, sensible and enforceable immigration law.
Stopping drivers who are suspected of transporting immigrants who may be infected with COVID will do little, if anything, to protect school children or anyone else from COVID. But it will win Abbott some votes in next year’s Republican primary, as will his wasteful proposal to finish building a border wall.
Instructing state troopers to stop immigrants also will lead to abusive racial profiling and the inconvenience or worse of lawful American citizens that some troopers think may look like immigrants. The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit to block the governor’s unlawful directive.
Meanwhile, Abbott keeps pronouncing that it is time for Texans to be “personally responsible” for their own behavior during a pandemic that remains dangerous and deadly.
Actually, it is time for the governor of Texas to be officially responsible and allow local governing bodies, including school districts, to require masking if they believe that is necessary to protect their local communities. Remember, as the American Academy of Pediatrics pointed out in recommending mask use in schools, children younger than 12 are not yet eligible for a COVID vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued similar guidelines.
Responding to the federal lawsuit against his order to make highway stops of immigrants, Abbott said he would not retreat because his “duty remains to the people of Texas, and I have no intention of abdicating that.”
The sad truth is that he already has abdicated that duty.