Garza pledged that she would pressure the federal government to fulfill its obligation to secure the border, but contended that the state should balance enforcement and welcoming immigration. She made the remarks in downtown Austin at an event hosted by The Texas Tribune.
“It is a strain on these border communities,” she noted, acknowledging that surges of illegal immigration have burdened jurisdictions along the border to provide resources such as food and medical care.
However, Garza’s campaign website calls Operation Lone Star “unconstitutional,” and she has previously minimized illegal immigration in her rhetoric.
“Yesterday Paxton came down to the [Rio Grande Valley]. Not to talk with voters, but to speak with Fox News,” Garza tweeted in early August. “He spewed his usual fear-mongering about a crisis on the border. The real crisis is the lack of healthcare and price gouging by energy companies.”
In Austin, Garza also pointed to Paxton’s indictment in Collin County on state-level securities fraud charges in 2015. The case has languished in Texas courts for years as it has been delayed for reasons ranging from special prosecutors quibbling over their compensation to Hurricane Harvey damaging the Harris County Courthouse.
Former employees of Paxton have also accused him of bribery and abuse of office, though he denied any wrongdoing and characterized the allegations as political smears.
In a campaign advertisement produced last week, Paxton called Garza “the most radical politician ever nominated by a major party in Texas” who wants to “impose her dangerous agenda on every Texan.”
Earlier this month, Paxton joined a set of other attorneys general from across the country calling on the Biden administration to designate fentanyl as a “weapon of mass destruction.” Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order in Midland last week labeling gangs and criminal cartels that traffic fentanyl as “terrorist organizations.”
Paxton has sued the Biden administration nine times over illegal immigration:
- January 22, 2021: Within days of President Biden’s inauguration, Paxton successfully sued to block the president’s 100-day pause on deportations.
- April 6, 2021: Paxton filed a complaint alleging that the Biden administration was unlawfully releasing convicted criminals who had illegally entered the country.
- April 13, 2021: After the federal government ended the Trump administration’s “Migrant Protection Protocols,” also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, Paxton filed a lawsuit alleging violations of the Administrative Procedure Act.
- April 22, 2021: The attorney general filed another lawsuit accusing the Biden administration of ignoring its own policies concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and “potentially infected” illegal immigrants.
- June 23, 2021: Paxton sued the White House on the ground that unaccompanied minors should not be free from expulsion under the Title 42 public health order.
- October 21, 2021: Paxton and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sued the Biden administration to require the continuation of the border wall project.
- January 28, 2022: The Central American Minors Program was the target of another one of Paxton’s actions against the Biden White House. He alleged the program has no basis in federal law.
- April 22, 2022: After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the end of expulsions under Title 42, Paxton filed a complaint that included an allegation the move was “arbitrary and capricious.”
- April 28, 2022: Paxton sued over the U.S. government’s asylum rules, contending they “exacerbate loopholes in the illegal-alien removal process.”
The attorney general’s office indicated in April that it is involved in two other immigration-related suits against the Biden administration.
‘Queen on the Chessboard’
This year’s general election will be the first since the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, and Democrats are characterizing Texas’ newly enacted ban on abortion as extreme.
Garza commented that she “knew Roe would be overturned,” and described the attorney general’s position as “the queen on the chessboard” due to its constitutional authority.
“I want to use it to protect choice in the State of Texas,” Garza said.
Paxton’s wife is Sen. Angela Paxton (R-McKinney), the sponsor of the Human Life Protection Act of 2021, which criminalized virtually all abortions unless necessary to prevent the death or serious bodily impairment of the mother. The attorney general himself has defended Texas’ pro-life laws in federal court.
In a poll of likely voters published on Sunday by North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA, 47 percent of respondents said they would vote for Paxton while 42 percent indicated their support for Garza. Only 3 percent preferred Libertarian Mark Ash.
However, with about two months to go before Election Day, 8 percent of those surveyed were undecided. The poll, which had a margin of error of 2.9 percent, was conducted by the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and several media outlets from September 6 to 15.
The general election is on Tuesday, November 8. Early voting begins Monday, October 24 and ends on Friday, November 4.
The results of the survey of likely voters can be found below.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."