AUSTIN, Texas - Governor Greg Abbott's migrant bussing program took to Chicago last week. It marks the third major Democratic run city this program has been expanded to.
Now, in a recent article, the Texas Tribune called it one of the most generous, publicly funded services to assist migrants.
Katie Naranjo, chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, and Matt Mackowiak, chair of the Travis County Republican Party, join FOX 7 Austin's Rebecca Thomas to speak on the topic.
Rebecca Thomas: Katie, according to the governor's office, close to 9,000 migrants who crossed the Texas Mexico border have been bus to other major cities on the East Coast and now Chicago. Has the strategy backfired and made Texas a desirable entry point for asylum seekers?
Katie Naranjo: The governor continues to do what he's done in every industry, whether it's the foster care system, health care, education. He literally kicks the can down the road or in this case, busses the migrants down to another state rather than actually addressing the problem. The fact that Texas continues and continues to not work with and is refusing to work with the federal government to address real immigration reform is the crux of the problem here, and the governor's leadership is continued to be lacking.
Rebecca Thomas: Matt, do you believe that bussing migrants to Chicago, New York and D.C. has increased awareness about issues affecting the border? Do you see any drawbacks? Is or is this backfiring?
Matt Mackowiak: I don't think it's backfiring. You know, the challenge with what Katie just said is that, first, states don't have immigration policies. So immigration is a federal issue. Second is Katie is against everything. She's apparently against busing voluntarily people who come here to other places that they want to go. And she's also against Operation Lone Star, which is filling the gap and doing the job the feds absolutely refuse to do to secure the southern border. So I guess my question for Katie is if you oppose Operation Lone Star and if you oppose bussing and if you can understand that immigration is a federal issue, that a governor has no control over, what would you what would you suggest the governor do?
Rebecca Thomas: Katy, go ahead.
Katie Naranjo: I think that the governor needs to work with the federal government instead of trying to implement the state's policy of his own immigration reform. I think that's the exact point, Matt, is that this is a federal issue and the state of Texas refuses to work with the federal government, especially when it comes to things like, for example, expanding Medicaid. Right. And so instead, he's taking millions, hundreds of millions of dollars in state dollars and putting it in Operation Lonestar. What is Operation Lonestar, Matt? What has Operation Lonestar done to actually protect Texans and address immigration issues and secure the border? We don't have a lot of answers there. And I think The Texas Tribune, a number of other journalists groups have found that Operation Lone Star has been a huge failure and a waste of taxpayer dollars. Instead of a governor trying to control a situation that he really has no control over, he needs to work with the federal government for real solutions for Texas.
Rebecca Thomas: And what would you like to see done?
Matt Mackowiak: Yeah, I mean, the problem with that is, is the Biden administration has created the crisis on the southern border. We were under control in the previous administration. You saw immigration at record lows. You didn't have the massive amounts of drugs coming across the mass of human trafficking and sex trafficking that's been enriching the cartels. And in fact, the president has never been there. The Joe Biden in his 40-year career has never been to the southern border. His border czar hasn't been to the worst parts of the border. She went to El Paso for a photo op. So ultimately, what we need to see is she's right. We do need a federal solution. I think the parties should come together for that. But the first thing you have to do is enforce the law. And the Biden administration is not doing that. They are literally winking towards migrants, encouraging them to come in for whatever reason, and that is harming border communities, which cannot handle the inflow. They cannot handle the fentanyl, which is being seized at record levels. So the problem gets worse. And so I don't blame the governor at all for trying to solve a problem the feds are making worse. His options are limited. He's doing the best he can. And I still didn't really hear an answer from Katie. She wants to expand Medicaid. That does nothing for the people that are crossing the border illegally and for the fentanyl that's pouring in.
Rebecca Thomas: Okay. Unfortunately, we are out of time.
Katie Naranjo: Got to just answer one thing real quick. Her name, Madam Vice President, Kamala Harris. The complete disrespect for what you treat the federal agency and government is laughable, Matt. And you have to have respect for people to work together. That's the problem with the Republican Party.
Rebecca Thomas: Okay, we're out of time. But Matt, Katy, thank you both for sharing your perspective tonight.