Democrats respond to GOP voting laws and proposed border wall in Texas

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Democrats are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst when it comes to nationwide efforts by the GOP.

“I’m very worried not only for the future of our state, but for the future of our democracy,” Rep. Veronica Escobar told KTSM 9 News.

Last week, Escobar and the Texas Democratic Party (TDP) announced a statewide initiative to register voters on a Texas-sized scale that will begin in El Paso.

Escobar’s hired a full-time staffer who will work hand-in-hand with TDP to register 1 million of the 3 million unregistered but eligible voters in Texas.

The initiative comes as Senate Bill 7 (S.B. 7) remains on the table until the Texas Legislature reconvenes for a special session. S.B. 7 would limit — and in some cases criminalize — voter registration efforts. The GOP says the push to tighten voting laws is to preserve democracy.

“If Democrats would just be honest about what the laws are doing that the Republicans are trying to do, which is to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” said Paris Dennard, National GOP spokesperson. 

Democrats across the country and at all levels of government are concerned by potential threats of voter disenfranchisement that they say threaten democracy.

Vice President Kamala Harris will be traveling to Austin next week to meet with the Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives about their walkout to stall the vote for S.B. 7.

Harris’ visit to Texas comes days after GOP criticism for traveling to Guatemala and Mexico to address immigration issues.

“When you have a party that’s basically disassembled, and in its place a movement that’s rooted in misinformation and focused on eroding our democracy, we all lose,” said Escobar.

Additionally, Democrats are responding to Gov. Greg Abbott’s claim that Texas will soon start construction on its own border wall in response to the immigration crisis after the Biden administration diverted funds allocated by Trump.

“The Administration will uphold the rule of law, and utilize all legal authorities to stop wall expansion. The President’s Budget proposes no new funding for border wall construction and calls on Congress to cancel any border barrier funds that remain at the end of the year so that these resources can instead be used for modern, privacy-protective and effective border management measures like enhanced technology between points of entry and improved infrastructure at Land Ports of Entry,” the White House said in a statement.

Leaders of the Texas Legislature remain defiant.

 “I will announce next week the plan for the state of Texas to begin building the border wall,” Abbott said on Thursday. 

Democrats argue that the announcement is a direct response to politicking following Abbott’s recent endorsement for re-election by former President Trump, as well as other Trump associates like Stephen Miller, who spearheaded the migrant family separation policy. 

“We have a governor who has kind of abandoned public policy and legislation, and is focused solely on the culture wars,” said Escobar.

Abbott’s announcement comes as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reporting an increase in calls to rescue migrants who’ve injured themselves falling from the existing border wall.

“In the last six to eight months we’ve been seeing five to 10 border wall accidents per week,” Daniel Medrano, Sunland Park Fire Chief said. “Some days it’s just one, some days it could be three or four.”

The injuries sustained can be very serious and often fatal.

“Most injuries we see are lower extremities,” said Medrano. “People holding on to the top of the wall, and losing their grip and falling — breaking ankles and breaking legs. We also see back and shoulder injuries.”

In a statement sent to KTSM 9 News, the White House said the Biden administration inherited a broken immigration system that “wasted billions of taxpayer dollars and neither kept the American people safe nor adhered to our values.

Under Trump, wall construction cost taxpayers up to $46 million per mile, according to the White House. Moreover, “Building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border and costs American taxpayers billions of dollars is not a serious policy solution or responsible use of Federal funds. Most contraband is likely to come through legal ports of entry,” the White House statement continued.

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