Deciding America’s future

The 2022 United States midterm elections are on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. These are the first national elections since the presidential election in 2020. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The 2022 United States midterm elections are on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. These are the first national elections since the presidential election in 2020. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Mia Badillo, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Weeks ahead of the 2022 Texas midterm elections on November 8, issues regarding the Texas-Mexico border are at the forefront of political debate.

Republicans are currently in control of every statewide office in Texas, and recent elections in Texas have significantly favored the Republican party.

In the 2018 Texas midterm elections, Republicans maintained control in the Senate, House, and Governor races. 

According to a poll by Quinnipiac University, which is in Hamden, Connecticut, Republican incumbent Greg Abbott has a 53 to 46 percent lead over Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke in the race for Governor of Texas. 

These two candidates have drastically different approaches when it comes to the migrant crisis, which poses an important decision for Texas voters to make.  

The outcome of the Texas midterm elections will shape future policies and legislation implemented on a local and statewide level. 

Abbott’s views

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas. Abbott won the election for Governor of Texas against Democratic candidate and Texas senator, Wendy Davis, on November 4, 2014. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

In March 2021, Republican Governor Abbott launched Operation Lone Star, an initiative to increase security along the Texas-Mexico border in response to rising illegal immigration.

The project costs an estimated $2.5 million per week to deploy extra state troopers, along with $2 billion per year for National Guard troops. 

Over 19 months, the total cost of the project is $4 billion, which has been expensed by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

According to a press release from the Office of the Texas Governor, Abbott said, “Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps left by the Biden Administration’s refusal to secure the border. 

Every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and the nation due to President Biden’s open border policies.”

Abbott contends that Operation Lone Star has led to 314,000 migrant apprehensions and nearly 21,000 criminal arrests.

The transportation of migrants to Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago is also included in the project’s objectives. 

Abbott announced the busing program in April 2022; since then, over 12,000 migrants have been sent to sanctuary cities on the East Coast.

Abbott said the purpose of the relocations is to provide relief for overwhelmed border cities, most of them in South Texas.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Operation Lone Star has not drastically deterred migration at Texas’ southern border. 

The number of migrant encounters in March 2021, when the program began, was 109,500 and declined to a minimum of 83,000 in January 2022.

However, the number of encounters increased to 117,000 in August 2022.

In his campaign for re-election, Abbott continues to advocate for border security and tighter immigration policies.

O’Rourke’s views

Beto O’Rourke, Democratic candidate for Governor of Texas, speaks at a rally in Georgetown, Texas. O’Rourke looks to unseat incumbent Governor Greg Abbott in the November midterm elections. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

After dropping out of the 2020 presidential race, O’Rourke announced that he would challenge Abbott in the 2022 midterm elections for Texas governor.

O’Rourke, a Democrat and former representative of Texas’ 16th Congressional District in El Paso, disagrees with Abbott on immigration policies. 

O’Rourke said, “As a fourth-generation border resident who is raising my three children in El Paso, guaranteeing safety and security at our border is at the top of my priorities…

To get this right, we must lead with bipartisan solutions, not counterproductive political stunts.” 

On border and immigration issues, O’Rourke plans to utilize smart technology like sensors, surveillance towers, and drones to assist in securing the border. 

He believes that these methods would allocate more time for enforcement authorities to complete screening processes for migrants. 

Additionally, O’Rourke wants to modify reunification systems to decrease the waiting time for family reunification in the United States. 

During the Texas governor’s debate in Edinburgh, Texas, on September 30, O’Rourke called out Abbott for his busing program. 

O’Rourke said, “This hateful rhetoric, this treating human beings as political pawns, talking about invasions and Texans defending themselves — that’s how people get killed at the Walmart in El Paso…” 

Leading up to the November 8 elections, O’Rourke is promoting his ‘Beto for Texas College Tour’ and additional rallies across the state of Texas.

El Paso busing operation

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser provides testimony at a hearing in Washington, D.C. in 2014. Leeser served as Mayor of El Paso from 2013-2017 and was re-elected in 2021. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

According to Border Report, border agents in El Paso, Texas, have encountered over 20,000 Venezuelan migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in September and October alone.

Some migrants are living in encampments in Downtown El Paso, while others are taking free bus rides to sanctuary cities such as New York City and Chicago.

The rides from El Paso are being organized by El Paso’s Democratic Mayor, Oscar Leeser.

According to the City of El Paso, 10,713 migrants were bused to New York City, and 3,259 migrants were bused to Chicago from late August to early October. 

From August 23 to October 20, El Paso bused more migrants than Abbott. 

In an article published by New York Post, City Representative Claudia Rodriguez said that Leeser told her the White House advised him against declaring a state of emergency in El Paso. 

Leeser made a similar statement at a city council meeting on September 27.

However, in an interview with Fox News that aired after the two incidents, Leeser denied reports that the White House advised against declaring a state of emergency in El Paso.

In response to the reports, Leeser said, “Absolutely not.

One of the things I’m very thankful for the White House and the federal government [is that] they’ve done a really good job of working with us and helping us to make sure we get funding to be able to do the job that border cities are required to do.”

On October 12, President Joe Biden expanded Title 42, a public health policy, to expel Venezuelan migrants to Mexico.

Eight days later on October 20, Leeser announced that El Paso would close its Migrant Welcome Center and end its busing program. 

As El Paso sees an end to the influx of migrants, voters in the Democratic-led city will have a substantial influence on the midterm elections. 

Preparing to vote

These are the deadlines for the 2022 midterm elections (Information courtesy of El Paso Times): 

  • October 11: Last day to register to vote
  • October 24: First day of in-person early voting
  • October 28: Last day to apply for a mail-in ballot (The application must be received by then, not postmarked by then)
  • November  4: Last day of in-person early voting
  • November 8: Election Day

Voting is a right and responsibility that all U.S. citizens should have the opportunity and motivation to exercise. 

As November 8 approaches, eligible voters at Loretto Academy plan to make their voices heard. 

Loretto Academy senior Jocelyn Valdez said, “ I indeed plan on voting this year.

Voting is important to me due to the fact that it is a way in which I can take part in a huge effort to make a change statewide. 

Many skip out of elections since they believe their vote won’t make a difference, but I believe my vote is my voice, and it counts.”

On September 8, Texas Freedom Network set up an information table at Loretto Academy and helped students register to vote.

Loretto senior Kelsey Hermida said, “When I first turned 18, I was full of excitement. 

The transition from childhood to adulthood is such a milestone, and I’m very blessed to have reached that big step. 

As voting comes to a start, I’m happy to announce that I will be voting this year. 

Voting brings independence, self-reliance, and responsibility to make your own decisions apart from what your parents think.”

The 2022 midterm elections will have a lasting impact on democracy in America and truly showcase the nation’s values for years to come.

Information courtesy of Beto for Texas, Office of the Texas Governor: Greg Abbott, and Texas Tribune.