(NewsNation) — Texas Governor Greg Abbott garnered national attention earlier this year when he began sending buses of migrants to liberal strongholds like Chicago, New York and Washington D.C. For months, Abbott, a Republican, has been at odds with the federal government over Congress’ lack of border action. .
Pressed on the issue during a debate with Democratic gubernatorial challenger Beto O’Rourke on Friday, Abbott explained why not send migrants to so-called asylum cities in the Republican-led state. Destinations like New York, Chicago and DC, he said, are “very large and have the infrastructure in place” to help help break the record number of migrant encounters at the Southwest border.
“They (the border towns) are inundated with migrant numbers,” Abbott said. “They need help and bussing is one way to give them help.”
O’Rourke, who is from El Paso, hit back and criticized Abbott for “treating humans as political pawns.”
“This hateful rhetoric, treating humans as political pawns, talking about invasion and Texans defending themselves is how people were killed at Wal-Mart in El Paso, (as well as) the gentlemen at Hudspeth we just learned about yesterday,” O said. ‘Rourke. “This is very dangerous for Texas and does not reflect our values.”
Other attempts by Abbott to secure the border include launchingLone Star Operation— an initiative that sends members of the Texas National Guard and Department of Public Security to the border in response to an influx of migrants.
Or, O’Rourkehas recommended forborder technologies such as sensors, control towers, and drones capable of detecting crossings between ports of entry.
He also suggested increasing processing capacity to allow for more efficient screening for asylum eligibility and criminal background checks. He said the US could prevent illegal migration by securing legal recourse and supporting the economy with guest worker programs that allow migrants to fill labor shortages.