Migrants on school buses? Texas town feels caught in the middle By Reuters
By Alexandra Ulmer
DEL RIO, Texas (Reuters) – Many residents of the Texan border town of Del Rio have been saying for months that they feel abandoned by the federal government as border arrests hit 20-year highs.
Now, with some 16,000 migrants sheltering in precarious conditions under the International Bridge connecting Del Rio and Mexico’s Ciudad Acuña, the resentment is getting worse.
Local lawyer, posted on Facebook (NASDAQ) Friday night that school buses in the area were transporting Haitians to processing centres.
“THE SAME BOUSES OUR CHILDREN WILL RIDE ON MONDAY !!!!” Jacques De La Mota posted photos of a school bus that appears to pick up migrants from the darkness, alongside a description.
De La Mota shared his post at least 1400 times. It also received over 300 comments from residents, most of whom expressed concern about the spread of diseases. Some people pointed out that the post was racialized in a subtle way. One comment said, “This post gives me segregation vibes.”
A statement was issued by the local school district superintendent explaining that two buses were not currently being used to transport students.
De La Mota stated to Reuters that he was concerned for his health and annoyed at the federal government’s involvement.
This town, home to approximately 85% Hispanics and the nearby Laughlin Air Force Base, is a prime example of anger over immigration.
Residents are furious at the closing of the International Bridge on Friday because of the influx of migrants. This is causing economic hardship on both sides.
On Saturday, a few protestors gathered with one woman holding a sign saying “BIDEN CRISIS.” A reporter from Reuters saw a truck parked in the middle of town, with a flag reading “FUCK BIDEN”. A second driver saw the truck and decided to cross the bridge last week. He looked at the migrants in a huddle and suggested that Del Rio residents should move over to Mexico.
BIDEN ON BACK FOOT
Val Verde County, whose county seat is Del Rio, went for Donald Trump over Joe Biden by a ten-point margin in the 2020 election, with some approving of his hard-line immigration policies. Bruno Lozano (Del Rio mayor) has no hesitation in calling out his Democratic counterpart.
“Where is your plan for protecting American communities along the southern border? Lozano posted a tweet Saturday. “I spoke with Governor Abbott today. “We have a temporary plan. We’d love to see yours.”
Greg Abbott, a Republican has taken a tough stance on the argument that Biden’s promises of more “humane” migration policies have fueled crossings.
He has taken several measures, including apprehending the migrants who are accused to have trespassed on private property. Also, Abbott is preparing for construction of some part of Trump’s promised border wall. Biden had previously paused its construction.
Abbott will face a March primary for the gubernatorial seat. His response to the February hurricane and handling of COVID-19 have been critical. James Henson of The Texas Politics Project at The University of Texas at Austin, stated that the issue of border could work in his favor and for Republicans generally.
Henson said, “It is a great issue for Republicans because it taps into growing nativist sentiments in the Texas GOP.”
De La Mota himself is a descendant of Mexicans who immigrated many generations ago and is a registered Democrat. De La Mota said that because the border crisis has caused Biden to lose his vote, he can’t count it anymore. He said, “It makes me rethink what I would do for the next cycle.”
Joshua D. Overfelt of the School Board, wrote that he was against the bus request because it wasn’t certain migrants weren’t carrying multiple diseases. He said that although he sympathizes with the asylum seekers, he also had to consider the residents’ concerns about being overwhelmed.
In May, he recalls his father’s terror when he went into his barn and found 13 Mexican migrants there.
“The community is caught in between,” he said to Reuters.
There are residents of Del Rio who mobilize to assist migrants, which is a fact.
Tiffany Burrow who is the operations director, stated that there are 35 volunteers at Del Rio’s single facility for caring for migrants. Burrow stated that there were “misconceptions” in the community regarding their work. These include false assumptions about the fact that the organization funds migrants’ journeys to the United States.
Burrow said, “We do not focus on politics but the notion of helping others.” It’s less controversial if you do it with that motivation.