by Jacob Fischler
All the Democrats in Texas’ congressional delegation sent a letter today to the Republican gubernatorial nominee, Attorney General Greg Abbott, calling on him to denounce civilian militia groups moving to the Rio Grande Valley to patrol the border.
“We hope you agree with us that these militant and potentially volatile groups patrolling the border are not in the best interest of Texas,” the letter’s last paragraph reads. “As the highest ranking executive with law enforcement responsibility, we hereby request that you denounce the actions of these militia groups and clarify the jurisdiction these militia groups have to patrol alongside local law enforcement and Border Patrol agents.”
The Democratic delegation — including Valley congressmen Rubén Hinojosa, Filemon Vela and Henry Cuellar — was “deeply disturbed” by reports and images of armed men patrolling the border, the letter said, which promoted violence against the influx of child immigrants and their families who have flooded across the Rio Grande in recent months.
And the Democrats pointed a damning finger at Abbott and the rest of the state’s (all Republican) leadership for not condemning the groups.
An Abbott spokeswoman said the group was playing politics instead of acting to help the situation.
“As Attorney General, Greg Abbott calls on congressional Democrats to immediately support federal funding for the National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety—which have been deployed to secure the border because the federal government failed to do its job,” wrote Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Lauren Bean. “It’s time for Texas’ elected representatives to do more than talk; they need to be part of the border security solution.”
The statement did not address Abbott’s position on the militia groups.
The 12 congressional representatives pointed out the federal Customs and Border Protection has not endorsed the militias due to concerns they “could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences,” as well as negative public relations results.
“Furthermore, the actions of these militia groups perpetuate the stigma that the border is a war zone, which is certainly not the case, and only continues to hurt the economic potential of an important area of our state.”
A spokeswoman from state Sen. Wendy Davis’, D-Forth Worth, campaign for governor did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
With Thursday the only remaining working day before Congress’ five-week August recess, members remained voting Wednesday evening. Cuellar and Vela did not return calls seeking comment. A spokeswoman for Hinojosa said the congressman was still voting after 6 p.m. Wednesday and would “probably not” return a call by press time.