Earlier this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced in a press release his office’s support for a lawsuit that would allow states to deny drivers’ licenses to immigrants who hold federal work permits. In other words, if he can’t do anything about immigrants having the right to a job, at least he can try to stop them from traveling to it.
That Ken Paxton and the rest of the State’s brass would seize every available opportunity to inconvenience, harass, imprison, and break up the families of Texas’s immigrants should come as a surprise to precisely no one, but the language of this particular press release is breathtakingly brazen in its hypocrisy.
We call B.S., Mr. Attorney General.
For one, Attorney General Paxton wants to “stand against the illegal federal overreach of the former president” on immigration matters while at the same time embracing—even abetting—the federal overreach of the current president on immigration matters. Specifically, Paxton’s confederates in the legislature just passed SB4, a bill that would require every law enforcement officer in Texas to work as an immigration agent for the federal government. (Never mind that immigration law is federal law that should be enforced by federal law enforcement.)
And we expect Governor Abbott—who declared SB4 an “emergency item” before the session—not only to gleefully sign this bill that would tear Texas cops away from their duties of protecting our communities so they can serve on Donald Trump’s deportation force, we expect him to do so at a well-attended ceremony where he will distribute commemorative pens.
Later in the release, Paxton writes, “Texas has a proven track record in protecting limited government.” Meanwhile, his allies at the legislature have proposed 39 bills that put the state in charge of women’s reproductive freedom, 25 bills that would make legal state-sponsored discrimination against LGBT Texans, and are about to fork over another $800 million to the Department of Public Safety, which still can’t account for the billion dollars they were given in 2015, to do the job of the federal government.
SB4 will make Texas a “show me your papers” state. Women will likely be prevented from using even private insurance for abortion services. We’ve thrown so much money at DPS that it might as well be considered a standing army. And Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick would dearly love to station a cop outside every public restroom door to check birth certificates and genitalia.
It must be extraordinarily difficult to maintain a straight face while supporting such measures, and at the same time bragging about a commitment to “limited government.”
Ultimately this hypocrisy stems from state lawmakers’ selective embrace of “local control.” It’s a mantra repeated by state leaders whenever the federal government does something they don’t like, and it’s the reason they spent millions of Texas taxpayers’ money so they could sue the Obama administration 48 times.
But their embrace of “local control” only applies when the locale in question is the Texas State Capitol. Cities, counties, school boards and the like who hope to decide their own local destinies are out of luck, and must yield.
The only principle to which Attorney General Paxton, Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, and most of the legislature are committed is the protection of their own power. And they’re using that power to discriminate against immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, LGBT Texans, and women.