Texas Gov. Greg Abbott went on the attack Thursday evening in Waco, blasting the notion of sanctuary cities in the Lone Star State, illegal immigration, attacks on law enforcement officers simply because they are wearing uniforms and an education system that does not include school-choice options.
A crowd of almost 300 at the Republican Party of McLennan County’s Lincoln-Reagan Dinner at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum’s Knox Hall punctuated Abbott’s talk several times with applause. Creating the biggest reaction was his line that he sued President Barack Obama’s administration 31 times, “which is a record that will never be broken.”
Abbott said he wants to sign legislation that would attach a hate-crime designation and longer prison sentences to people who attack peace officers. Ambush attacks on peace officers increased 150 percent last year, among the most noteworthy being the sniper attack in downtown Dallas that claimed five lives, Abbott said.
Legal immigration is special to Abbott, whose wife is Hispanic, but the governor said the state must secure its border with Mexico, where about 1,000 people a day enter the state illegally. He said he toured the Rio Grande border region this week with new Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and received assurances that President Donald Trump is poised to start work soon to stop illegal border crossings.
Elected officials in Texas cities who thumb their nose at laws meant to keep undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes behind bars “will be defunded, fined and criminally prosecuted,” Abbott said.
He lauded the efforts of schools such as Texas State Technical College in Waco for training a workforce that makes Texas the envy of the nation.
“We have more people with jobs in this state than ever in our history, even with last year’s downturn in the oil patch, when oil prices hit bottom,” Abbott said. “The state created more jobs last year than Waco, Texas, has residents.”
The city’s population is about 129,000 people.
“If Texas was its own country, it would have the 10th largest economy in the world, larger than Canada, larger than Australia and even larger than Russia,” Abbott said.
Turning to accomplishments during the last session of the Texas Legislature, Abbott said it earmarked $70 billion in highway improvements over 10 years.
“You will be seeing a lot of that work right out here on Interstate 35,” he said. “Caterpillar and makers of those orange construction cones will get plenty of action.”
He said 30 states give parents “some kind of choice in where their children go to school,” and he wants Texas to join the group.
“One size does not fit all, and I had that point driven home with me on a visit to Lubbock, where a father of three told me one child went to public school, another went to private school and a third was home-schooled,” Abbott said. “I want all parents to have the option of doing what’s best for their children.”
He said he has grown weary of a growing federal government “that stiff arms the states and ignores its own citizens.”
He suggested pursuing change by holding a convention of states that would collaborate to shape the country’s future.