Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, who represents Texas’ 16th Congressional District in El Paso, has criticized Governor Greg Abbott's decision to investigate non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide humanitarian aid to migrants. In a statement posted to Twitter Thursday, Escobar called the move "shameful" and suggested that it is intended to "intimidate and instill fear" in non-profits and faith-based organizations.
The investigation, which was announced by Governor Abbott earlier this week, is being carried out by the Texas Attorney General’s Office. Abbott called for an investigation into, "the role of NGOs in planning and facilitating the illegal transportation of illegal immigrants across our borders." The governor's press release stated without citing any evidence, "There have been recent reports that non-governmental organizations may have assisted with illegal border crossings near El Paso,” reads the letter. “We further understand NGOs may be engaged in unlawfully orchestrating other border crossings through activities on both sides of the border, including in sectors other than El Paso. It is unclear what specific organizations are being targeted or what actions the state may take as a result of the investigation.
According to a report by Fox News on Monday, Mexican police escorted 20 buses carrying migrants from other parts of Mexico to NGOs located in Mexican border cities. The report stated that the migrants subsequently walked from these NGOs and crossed illegally into El Paso, Texas. It is worth noting that Texas does not have jurisdiction over Mexican NGOs, and the report did not suggest any wrongdoing by a US-based NGO.
Critics of the investigation, including Escobar, have raised concerns that it could have a chilling effect on humanitarian efforts in the region. Many NGOs, particularly faith-based organizations, rely on volunteers and donations to provide basic necessities such as food, water, and medical care to migrants who are passing through the area.
In her statement, Escobar said, "It is deeply disturbing that the Governor would choose to use his power and resources to target those who are offering compassion and assistance to some of the most vulnerable members of our community. This is a clear attempt to undermine the important work of these organizations and to create an environment of fear and mistrust."
It remains to be seen how the investigation will proceed or what the ultimate outcome will be. However, it has already sparked a heated debate over the role of NGOs in providing assistance to migrants and the potential consequences of such efforts.
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