Gov. Abbott labels Biden’s border policy ‘neanderthal thinking’
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Thursday fired back at President Joe Biden for labeling his state’s move, as well as others’, to scrap its mask mandate “Neanderthal thinking,” calling a recent report that the Border Patrol released over 100 COVID-positive undocumented immigrants into the state.
“First, it obviously is not the type of thing that the president should be saying,” Abbott told “Fox & Friends” on Thursday morning. “But, second, he kind of said it on the worst day he could have, because the same day he said that in Texas, the Biden administration was releasing illegal immigrants into our communities who had COVID.”
“The Biden administration was exposing Texans to COVID,” he added. “That is a Neanderthal-type approach to dealing with the COVID situation.”
Abbott also blamed the Biden administration’s “lack of constraint of testing and quarantining people who come across the border illegally.”
“But, more importantly, with regard to the masks, the change in Texas really wasn’t all that much different from where we were before for a couple of reasons,” Abbott also argued. “First, we are still strongly advocating that every Texan follow the best practice. Where we are today is completely different from where we were this time last year when Texans and Americans didn’t know how to deal with this for an entire year. Texans have learned the best practice, and that is to wear a mask. And we still strongly recommend that people do wear a mask.”
In another Thursday interview, Abbott defended the decision to open up the state, telling CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that Texans already know that “the safe standard, among other things, is to wear a mask.”
“Do they really need the state to tell them what they already know for their own personal behavior?” Abbott said.
On Wednesday, the day after Abbott announced that the Lone Star State was “OPEN 100%,” Biden called his move and a similar one in Mississippi a “big mistake”.
“The last thing, the last thing you need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything is fine, take off your mask,” he told reporters in the Oval Office.
Notably, Abbott and the president spent hours together last Friday in Houston with no hint of animosity, The Dallas Morning News reported. Biden assessed Texas’ recovery from the previous week’s statewide power failures and toured a vaccination “super site” at NRG Park capable of delivering 6,000 shots per day, according to the newspaper.
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Thursday afternoon, Abbott issued a statement expressing his frustration with the Biden administration’s immigration policy, blaming immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border for spreading the coronavirus recently.
“The unconscionable act by the Biden Administration of releasing COVID-positive illegal immigrants in our state puts the lives of Texans and Americans at risk. Border security is strictly a federal responsibility. The federal government alone has the responsibility to test, screen and quarantine illegal immigrants crossing our border who may have COVID,” the governor said. “Instead of doing their job, the Biden Administration suggested it did not have the sufficient resources and, remarkably, asked Texas to assist them in aiding their illegal immigration program. Texas refused. We will not aid a program that makes our country a magnet for illegal immigration.”
On Wednesday, Felipe Romero, a spokesman for the border city of Brownsville, told Fox News that the Border Patrol is telling immigrants who tested positive to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to quarantine and maintain social distance, but that the city doesn’t have the authority to prevent them from journeying elsewhere in the U.S.
At the U.S. Capitol, Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R), who also met with the president in Houston, defended Abbott against the criticism his order has received.
“President Biden has a lot of problems to take care of. […] And so I don’t think he’s got a lot to say about preaching to my state about how to handle this COVID-19 virus,” he said, adding that “the fact of the matter is, if you want to wear a mask you can still wear a mask.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.