“I did get the chance to visit with the El Paso delegation and help them understand that mistakes were made and course correction has been made,” Abbott said, speaking ahead of the meeting of the newly formed Texas Safety Commission.
Abbott said he spoke with El Paso lawmakers about the letter and “emphasized the importance of making sure that rhetoric will not be used in any dangerous way.”
The two-page fundraising mailer, sent from Abbott’s office, was dated one day before a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso on Aug. 3. Police say the alleged gunman later admitted that he had targeted Mexicans with his rampage.
In his letter, first obtained by The Texas Signal, Abbott speaks of the need to “DEFEND” the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, capitalizing, bold-facing and underlining the word. It asks Republicans for contributions toward “my $1 billion plan ... to secure our border with Mexico.” It also attacks Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) as a “radical socialist” and calls House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) “reprobates.”
“The national Democrat machine has made no secret of the fact that it hopes to ‘turn Texas blue.’ If they can do it in California, they can do it in Texas — if we let them,” the governor wrote, according to The Texas Tribune.
He ended: “Unless you and I want liberals to succeed in their plan to transform Texas — and our entire country — through illegal immigration, this is a message we MUST send.”
The letter surfaced last week in a report by the Tribune.
The Texas Democratic Party blasted Abbott’s mailer as “racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Latino,” and said the governor’s comments Thursday did not constitute an apology.
“The first step in solving a problem is admitting we have one. In that respect, this Texas Safety Commission meeting is a step in the right direction. However, let’s be clear: Governor Abbott and the Republican Party’s white supremacist rhetoric, like that seen in Abbott’s fundraising mailer the day before the El Paso shooting, continues to be a major part of the problem,” Manny Garcia, executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, said in a statement.
He added: “Governor Abbott refuses to apologize for this racist fundraising mailer and won’t answer questions about ending his racist rhetoric immediately.”
Abbott has also faced a backlash in recent days for suggesting in a tweet that undocumented immigrant children should not be given a public education, as the Supreme Court decided in the 1982 case Plyler v. Doe.
The governor on Aug. 22 retweeted a Twitter user who griped that tax dollars are “paying for illegals to be educated.”
“Google Plyler v. Doe,” Abbott commented, noting that “federal courts rejected our lawsuit that the federal government should pay for that education cost.”
The Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives released a statement in response to the governor’s tweet, calling his comment “immoral and infuriating.”
“Texas reaps the social and economic rewards of educating ALL of its children,” the group said. “Since day one, Gov. Abbott has demonized the immigrant community fueling the widespread hate towards our Latino family.”