Pillen expresses ‘disbelief’ about situation at the southern border, while civil rights group condemns ‘barbaric waste’ of funds by GOP governors

By: - August 21, 2023 4:30 pm
border security

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, at right, joined the governors of Oklahoma, Iowa, Texas and South Dakota for a press conference Monday at Eagle Pass, Texas, to condemn border policies of the Biden administration. (Screenshot from Gov. Greg Abbott’s Facebook page)

LINCOLN — A group of Republican governors and a leading Latino civil rights groups traded charges of barbaric treatment of immigrants on Monday as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott staged a press conference on the southern border.

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen meets with troops at the southern border in Texas. (Courtesy of the Governor’s Office)

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen participated in the event, and used the word “disbelief” to describe his first visit to the Texas-Mexico border.

Pillen said that a series of buoys Abbott has ordered strung across the Rio Grande River are being misrepresented in the news media and are really a “deterrent” to Mexican drug cartels that are shipping drugs across the border to “kill our kids.”

‘Protect kids’

“That’s one thing in the United States we all surely agree on,” the governor said. “We have to protect our kids.”

The governors of Iowa, South Dakota and Oklahoma, who also attended the press conference, all said problems with fentanyl and methamphetamines have increased due to lax immigration policies of the Biden administration.

 “The border is turning into a deadly welcome map,” said Abbott at the press conference, saying a record 856 people died crossing the border last year.

But the head of the League of United Latin American Citizens said Abbott’s border strategy “does nothing” to solve the immigration and humanitarian crisis at the southern border and has instead led to injuries and deaths.

Domingo Garcia
Domingo Garcia, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizen (Courtesy of LULAC)

Domingo Garcia, LULAC’s national president, said that the buoys — fitted with concertina wire and saw blades — are “sadistic instruments” that are not a “defense strategy” but “a basic failure of human dignity.”

‘Barbaric actions’

“Gov. Abbott is transforming his hateful attack on defenseless refugees into a grotesque spectacle and is now inviting his supporters to witness his barbaric actions firsthand,” Garcia said in a press release.

Pillen recently deployed 61 members of the Nebraska National Guard to the border to assist Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star.”

The Examiner recently reported that the deployments of Nebraska personnel could cost up to $2 million.

Pillen called on President Joe Biden to “follow the leadership of Gov. Abbott.”

Garcia said the governors are wasting taxpayer money and should instead “redirect their attention to their own states and refrain from becoming pawns in a failed policy of hatred and fear.”

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club's Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling and writing about the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.