Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) on Friday blasted Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in a Twitter tirade, accusing him of fearmongering about an increase of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border instead of focusing on issues directly affecting his constituents.
“You’re in a Border Patrol boat armed with machine guns,” O’Rourke wrote in response to footage that Cruz had shared of himself at the shores of the Rio Grande, supposedly observing Mexican cartel members on the other side. “The only threat you face is unarmed children and families who are seeking asylum (as well as the occasional heckler). If you’re looking for a crisis to cosplay Senator for, I’m happy to point you in the right direction.”
O’Rourke, who failed to unseat Cruz in a heated 2018 Senate race, went on to highlight a number of other Texas issues that he said Cruz was ignoring in lieu of harping on immigration woes at the border ― including mass shootings, the minimum wage and a lack of accessible health care.
“The truth is, the number of individual asylum seekers and immigrants seeking to come to this country is the SAME or LOWER than it was in 2019 when Trump was President (and you were, apparently, Senator),” O’Rourke wrote. “This isn’t any more of a crisis today than it was then.”
O’Rourke has not been the only one to level criticism at Cruz, who’s been touring the U.S.-Mexico border with 18 other Republican senators, including Sen. Lindsay Graham (S.C.), and blaming the Biden administration for a “humanitarian crisis.”
Cruz’s detractors argue that the senator was not nearly as vocal about such conditions when the Trump administration was enforcing family separation at the border. They’ve also highlighted his getaway to Cancun, Mexico, last month when millions of Texans were left without power due to extreme weather.
O’Rourke, who was one of many Democratic presidential hopefuls in the 2020 cycle, has frequently criticized Texas Republican leadership, arguing that “stupid culture battles” have turned the Lone Star State into a “failed state” and obscured more pressing problems, such as COVID-19 vaccine distribution and the local impact of the pandemic.
The former representative has acknowledged the large numbers of migrants at the southern border this year, but argued that it is merely representative of a larger problem. He said the U.S. must work more closely with Central American governments and NGOs, and “rewrite our immigration laws to reflect the priority of family reunification, the contributions of millions of hardworking Americans who lack documentation and status in this country, & our desire to ensure a safe, legal path to come to this country.”
Migrant numbers at the southern border are currently lower than the peaks reached two years ago, according to an analysis by CNN. That said, in May 2019, 11,475 unaccompanied minors were taken into federal custody, more than in any other month that year ― and in February 2021, more than 9,200 unaccompanied minors were arrested, a sign that this is already a heavy year for minors at the border.
Republican lawmakers have been quick to criticize the Biden administration for struggling to handle the increase of people attempting to enter the U.S., though a number of reasons have contributed to this rise ― including COVID-19’s impact on Latin America and Hurricanes Eta and Iota, which struck the region in quick succession in November.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated the number of Texans who were recently left without power due to extreme weather. There were millions of such people, not hundreds of millions.