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Undocumented immigrants haven’t killed 72,808 Texans over the last two years, like COVID-19 did by way of Dec. 2. Immigrants haven’t introduced that form of hazard to the state within the final 20 years, for that matter.
However fear of an insecure border constantly outweighs the pandemic as a matter of concern in Texas. That persistent fear over immigration is strongest among the many state’s Republicans. It overshadows different points — winter blackouts and electric grid failures, debates over election fraud and ballot access, handgun regulation, abortion — even when these issues prime the information.
As we finish a yr of record-setting numbers of people trying to cross from Mexico into Texas, Republican candidates — a few of them officeholders — have a potent political challenge that performs their method.
Republican voters have chosen immigration and border security as the highest challenge going through the nation for greater than a decade.
This yr’s crush of individuals making an attempt to enter the U.S. has centered consideration, as soon as once more, on immigration points. A Democrat occupies the White Home, giving a Republican state authorities a built-in political foil. The variety of undocumented immigrants in detention in Texas has elevated by greater than 50% since Joe Biden took workplace. And a considerably surprising finances surplus has allowed the state to throw nearly $3 billion at the problem, within the type of boundaries (whether or not these are walls, cars or shipping containers), state police, and Nationwide Guard troopers and belongings.
That concentrate on the border comes on the opening of the 2022 election cycle. Candidates are submitting for workplace, elevating cash, focusing in on the problems they may emphasize and placing their marketing campaign supplies collectively.
The timing, from a political viewpoint, is fortuitous.
As Democrats are wanting exhausting on the electric grid failures throughout a winter storm that induced almost statewide blackouts final February, Republicans want to the border. Consideration is excessive, their voters care about it, the GOP is making a play for conservative Latino voters within the state’s border counties, and the social gathering’s candidates are already heaping blame for border and immigration issues on the Democrat within the White Home.
The social gathering primaries come shortly — March 1, in the event that they’re not pushed by court docket challenges to the state’s new political maps. And it wouldn’t be shocking, as we come out of the vacation break in January, to see video of individuals making an attempt to cross the border in Republican candidates’ marketing campaign spots, and video of snow and darkish cities in Democrats’ commercials.
A minimum of they’d be speaking about points.
By the point the final election season heats up subsequent fall, winter can be behind us, and until there’s a repeat of this yr’s freeze, the political dialog can have moved on.
The border will nonetheless be there, and if latest many years are the map, it’s going to nonetheless be on voters’ minds. Inside the final week, the Biden administration introduced it had renegotiated the “remain in Mexico” program the president campaigned in opposition to. That Trump-era program retains migrants searching for asylum on this nation in Mexico whereas their standing is being thought of. Biden ended it, however misplaced authorized challenges. Now, it’s again in place, bringing consideration as soon as once more to problems with robust significance to conservative voters.
Different points are vital, too, however few are as persistent as border safety and immigration. Democrats operating for workplace in 2022 face apparent headwinds like GOP-drawn redistricting maps and the president’s souring approval numbers.
Add immigration to these political issues. Whereas Democrats are ready for unhealthy climate or another surprising information to assist them upset the Republicans in 2022, the officers in energy have already got one certain factor to speak about — and it’s one which performs to their strengths.
The snow might need melted, however the border will nonetheless be there.