By Sally Sexton
CNHI News Service
WEATHERFORD, Texas – A disaster declaration authorized by commissioners in a north central Texas county has prompted a visit from a national organization and condemnation from several local groups.
Parker County’s state of disaster declaration, signed July 25 after approval by the county judge and four commissioners, states that “the health, safety and welfare of the residents of Parker County are under the imminent threat of catastrophe due to unprecedented levels of illegal immigration. , human trafficking and drug trafficking crossing the US border from Mexico.
The League of United Latin American Citizens issued a press release last week calling the claims “anti-Latino” after members of the organization traveled to Weatherford on August 13 via the “Power of the Latino Vote”. LULAC said the bus was carrying its national president, Domingo Garcia, and a team of LULAC members trained in Get Out the Vote to encourage Latinos and other people of color to register and vote.
“This tour serves many purposes,” said LULAC District Manager Hilda Duarte in the press release. “Above all, the objective is to register voters. Also, to let brown and black residents of the community know that they can count on LULAC for solidarity in civil rights issues. Equally important, we encouraged them to become more involved in what their elected leaders say and do, and to speak up for themselves when targeted.
In a phone call Tuesday, Garcia called the term “invasion” racist and said the statement was nonsense.
“There is no ‘invasion’ to warrant a national emergency crisis,” he said. “It’s just a senseless complacency to the far right, and it’s incredibly divisive. It doesn’t represent compassionate conservatism, it’s unChristian, unTexan, and unAmerican, and we need to take a stand.
The county’s statement cites Article IV, Section 4 of the United States Constitution and Article 4, Section 7 of the Texas Constitution as the reason for declaring that an “invasion” was underway.
Parker County Judge Pat Deen, reached by phone Friday, insisted there was nothing racist about it.
“I welcome these conversations because we respect all nationalities,” he said. “People who live here and in Texas, we have all nationalities and we love them all. It’s not a reflection on that at all, we just want it to be legal.
Asked about the impact of illegal immigration on the county, he cited wages and health benefits.
“So it becomes a detriment to our economy and not what it was intended to do,” Deen said.
Taking jobs from those who live in the county and security are two others, he said.
“You want to make sure that people who come into this country — and I’m not talking about just one nationality — are vetted, comply, and are legal American citizens,” he said. “You have terrorism, and those who may not have the best intentions crossing the border. We want to be sure we are protected and we have the right to protect our citizens, not only here but in Texas.
Garcia acknowledged that several areas warrant the call for a local disaster declaration, particularly those along the border.
“But here is another county using refugees as political pinatas,” he said. “I think the federal government needs to do more to help the humanitarian crisis, and I think [President] Biden needs to come visit. Whether [Deen] were to come and see that these “invaders” were 3 and 5 year olds with their mom and dad who have the same dreams and aspirations, I think it would be an eye opener.
Deen said he was contacted after the meeting and the response from residents was overwhelmingly supportive of his position.
As for what the statement actually does, Deen said it simply gives support and encouragement to Governor Greg Abbott’s office that “we support your efforts to protect our border.” We have no authority to go further than that.
Abbott’s office has so far refrained from declaring the border situation an “invasion.”
Members of the Parker County Progressives and the Parker County Peace Coalition released statements calling the statement falsehoods, falsehoods and inflammatory language.
“It only serves to promote fear and hatred towards Hispanics in our community. Parker County Progressives condemn this racist statement and demand that Judge Deen and the commissioners immediately retract it,” according to one of the statements.
Another calls the mention of fentanyl crossing the border – something initially raised at the July meeting by Sheriff Russ Authier and questioned by resident Kay Parr – as “an act of fear at its best” to target people of color .
Parker County is among at least eight others to release the statement, with Wise County Judge JD Clark signing his county’s next Commissioners Court endorsement on August 8. Atascosa, Kinney, Goliad, Terrell, Edwards and Presidio counties also released similar statements. , as well as the city of Uvalde.
Garcia said his group plans to visit some of those areas and that the organization is considering legal action against “the abuse of power and authority for unconstitutional emergencies,” although nothing has been filed.