Texas: A Fascist Initiative

Ultraconservative state lawmakers in the Texas legislature have proposed legal reforms that would criminalize immigration, to the point where it could be punishable by life in prison. The legislation would also create squadrons that pursue travelers without documentation. This parapolice force would include volunteers who could detain suspects without being subject to federal law. These squads would be immune from criminal and civil liability for human rights violations and abuse.

The initiative filed by ultraconservative Republican legislators led by the bill’s author, Matt Schaefer, is an aberration and has generated protest. In addition, it has forced the House of Representatives to hear testimony from people who contend the law will be dangerous if enacted.

The primary justification for House Bill 20 is the imaginary connection between the flow of immigrants and traffic in fentanyl, a provocative and false pretext. According to official U.S. statistics, 86% of those who have been detained for smuggling fentanyl into the U.S. are U.S. citizens. But the real motivation for the bill is different from those deceitful allegations: In a preelection year like this, the most reactionary sectors in American politics are inclined to take up any paranoid fantasy and stir up fear to win votes.

Aside from the lies on which it is based, House Bill 20 would revive the Texas Minuteman Project, a racist paramilitary group financed by ultraright supporters comprising ranchers and military veterans. At the end of last year and into 2023, the organization devoted itself to hunting immigrants along the Mexico-U.S. border without any legal basis to do so. The revival of this organization would further a climate inclined toward lynching foreigners and setting the scene for increasing attacks. In addition, Texas would set a dangerous precedent by assuming powers that are vested in the federal government, including the control of immigration and international borders. In this way, it would reinforce the serious institutional and moral decline that our neighbor to the north is enduring.

The victims of such legislation would not just be immigrants. Predictably, these squads, referred to as ”Border Protection Units” in the House bill, would include the most intolerant, racist and xenophobic citizens in Texas, individuals who would not hesitate to target other people they hate such as racial minorities, particularly African Americans, reproductive and gender rights activists, sexually diverse communities, liberals and the homeless. The social cleansing mentality knows no limits and ultimately focuses on anyone it considers to be different. In short, House Bill 20 would open the door to fascism.

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