Gov. Greg Abbott Will Reportedly Separate Families and Throw Some Undocumented Migrants in Prison

In 2018, the Republican said family separations were "tragic and heart-rending."


"This disgraceful condition must end," said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in June 2018 as then-President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy inspired widespread backlash. The directive held that every illegal border crossing—a misdemeanor first offense—be prosecuted, which saw thousands of children separated from their parents. Though former President Barack Obama also prosecuted parents when they were suspected of more serious crimes, it had not been customary to upend families over a misdemeanor. The Republican leader of the Lone Star State called it "tragic and heart-rending."

Fast forward to 2021, and the political optics are different. President Joe Biden is in power. He has been roundly criticized by the GOP for what the party says is an overly liberal immigration system, though he has quietly preserved many of Trump's restrictionist policies.

Abbott's solution: He has directed the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to clear out the Dolph Briscoe Unit, a state prison in Dilley, Texas, so that law enforcement can arrest and detain some undocumented migrants there, according to The Marshall Project's Keri Blakinger. Adults arrested and facing such charges will not be able to keep their families intact.

The move is a part of Operation Lone Star, an Abbott initiative that saw "air, ground, marine, and tactical border security assets" deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border "to deny Mexican Cartels and other smugglers the ability to move drugs and people into Texas." A disaster declaration signed by Abbott in May upped the ante, giving the Department of Public Safety increased latitude to enforce various offenses, like trespassing. It also directed the state to revoke licenses for any child care service caught looking after "unlawful immigrant" children.

"The state of Texas continues to deal with a significant number of individuals illegally crossing the border," said Jeremy Desel, a TDCJ spokesperson, in a statement. "To address the ongoing crisis, Governor Abbott is directing state resources to arrest and confine those individuals crossing the border unlawfully and who have committed a state or federal crime."

Though TDCJ is yet to confirm exactly which crimes they'll hone in on, State Rep. Gene Wu (D–Houston) tells Blakinger that at least a portion will be "low-level" offenses, such as criminal trespassing, which is a misdemeanor.

"While President Biden continues to ignore the crisis on our southern border and his duties to our country, Texas is stepping up and upholding the rule of law," said Renae Eze, Abbott's press secretary, in a statement.

Yet it was not immediately clear if the plan itself is legal, as migrant arrestees will be sent to prison prior to any trial or conviction.

"We're putting migrants with low-level offenses in here," Kate Huddleston, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told Austin's local NBC affiliate. "But is it fair to treat a migrant with a low-level offense, is it fair to say let's treat them like a fully-convicted prisoner?"

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141 responses to “Gov. Greg Abbott Will Reportedly Separate Families and Throw Some Undocumented Migrants in Prison

  1. it’s “home” in on; like a homing pigeon, not like honing one’s skills

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    3. Fuck you billy binion – you fucking idiot – you think everyone has shit for brains like you, you goddamn sellout?

      Jesus reason, wtf is wrong with you guys? We all know that there are zero people in America that sympathize with this. If the ass fucking corporations want immigrants they can legalize immigrants. No one is going to support illegal anything because we are civilized and choose to obey consensus rules. Fuck how hard is this to understand?

      Do you sleep with your shorts around your ankles every night billy boy? What’s that like you fucking shill? Fuck you binion. Fuck your mother for not flushing too. Let’s hold her ass accountable.

      1. Agreed!!!!

        To add to it – any Governor, whether of a border state or not, has no control at all over immigration policy and enforcement (they can check immigrants for paperwork and without it send them to ICE) as that’s all under federal control. So that big house, white one, on Pennsylvania Avenue. I’m sorry it’s current inhabitant is someone deeply loved by Reason writers and editors, but you cannot set blame to a Republican governor for any of it.

  2. Fuck off, Reason.

    1. At least you admit they know for to F – I have questions about you though

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  3. Law enforcement enforces laws. Film at eleven.

    1. Yes, but you don’t understand, cheap nannies and slave-wage gardeners are at stake.

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    2. “My taxes are too high waaaah!”

      1. “Other people’s taxes aren’t high enough! Waaah!”

        1. Nice

          1. Seconded

    3. Unreason is on the side of commies.

      Out of the ashes shall rise anarchyland or commieland (depending on antiamerican persuasion).

  4. “Abbott’s solution: He has directed the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to clear out the Dolph Briscoe Unit, a state prison in Dilley, Texas, so that law enforcement can arrest and detain some undocumented migrants there, according to The Marshall Project’s Keri Blakinger. Adults arrested and facing such charges will not be able to keep their families intact.”

    Excuse me, are you reporting on immigrant children being separated from their immigrant families and imprisoned, or are you saying that imprisoning adults for immigration violations will separate them from their families?

    Comparing separating adults from their families (like every imprisoned felon ever) to a statement made about the tragedy of separating immigrant children from their parents and imprisoning children would be intellectually dishonest.

    1. HuffPo-level journalisming. Binion was trained by the best.

      1. I still don’t know what we’re talking about.

        He said separating children from their parents was tragic, so now arresting adults and holding them for a hearing is evil and unpossible?

        A lot of these asylum seekers are turning themselves in to law enforcement–with their children–and asking for asylum. That’s what they walked a thousand miles with their children to do. I don’t believe it’s legal to dump children or their parents on the street under those circumstances. If they’re entitled to a hearing, you’re probably legally compelled to hold them–until you can place them somewhere.

        Is it just that the article is half-baked?!

        That would explain a lot.

        1. He said separating children from their parents was tragic, so now arresting adults and holding them for a hearing is evil and unpossible?

          Look at some of our finer, zero-bail cities for the inevitable outcome of that.

          1. My understanding is that when it’s determined that an asylum seeker has a legitimate claim and is entitled to a hearing, the government is required to line them up with a place to stay, a job, make sure the kids are in school, have EBT and Medicaid, etc., etc.

            It takes time, and that’s what they’re coming for–at the rate of more than 150,000 a month.

            Children traveling alone can get released to a family member early, if there’s one already in the country, but they don’t just hand kids out to anybody who shows up saying they want one. They need to verify the identities of these people, try to contact the kids’ parents, do background checks to see if the family member is on a sex offender list–it’s like adopting a child.

            Meanwhile, I’m not sure what the law says, but holding children with adults in the same place may be illegal for the children’s safety. We don’t put 13 year-olds with the adult population when they commit felonies either. In a perfectly progressive, open immigration system, they wouldn’t just dump kids on the street. You can’t pick a kid up from school if they don’t know who you are!

            This isn’t an indictment of our immigration system. This is common sense shit.

            This article is like a mood piece. I’m not sure you’re supposed to think about what it means. Maybe it’s about how it’s supposed to make you feel?

            1. The Flores settlement forces the kids to be separated if parents are detained until hearing.

            2. The point of the article is to shit on a southern Republican governor. It serves no other purpose.

              1. +1

                It’s tribalist emoting and nothing more.

                1. Can you blame the liberal-libertarian mainstream for periodically gloating a bit after stomping the right-wing bigots in the culture war?

              2. Since the governor has zero control over federal policies and laws such as the immigration laws and enforcement and detention centers and and and….

                Sorry, got lost there – point is no state governor in all the US can enforce immigration policy. They can check arrested immigrants papers, but if they don’t have them, the state authorities would drop the immigrant off at ICE.

            3. “…the government is required to line them up with a place to stay, a job….,”

              I’m dubious on the job part. The rest is likely accurate.

              1. The government has official programs with various private employers to place asylum seekers. Some of them have become big advocates for taking in more asylum seekers because of it.

                “Nearly 30 percent of the workforce of Chobani, a leading yogurt company, consists of refugees resettled in the United States.”

                —-CNBC, July, 2016


                They send a lot of them to work in the meat packing industry in rural areas, too, where there isn’t a lot of labor. The government subsidizes their salaries.

                However, it takes a while to get into those programs, and while legitimate refugees from Syria or Africa may think those government asylum job programs are great, the refugees that have been flooding here from the Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras) may not want them–so they can work near the family members they came here to be with anyway.

                Again, the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle countries are either a) denied a hearing because they don’t claim persecution, b) never show up to their hearing, or c) are denied asylum by a judge. If that’s the most likely outcome, it would just mean you were moving to somewhere in the rural Midwest to process cattle, pigs, or chickens–and you’d lose that job just as soon as your asylum claim fell through anyway.

        2. They don’t walk 1000 miles. They cross the border then take transportation to the US border, walk two miles and they’re done. Those from further south fly in.

          They’re not on some major trek.

      2. “HuffPo-level journalisming.”

        Yeah, even incorporated liberal, Joke Biden Administration and the Joke Brother- Chamber of Commerce lingo with “Undocumented migrants.”

        Binion manages to further mangle our language with misleading terms and euphemisms. Binion wants to put the liberal in Libertarian.

        This biased PC BS should help me from having to “circle back” to this journalistic shit show for a bit. Better able to focus on real news sources. Thanks, Binion.

  5. “tragic and heart-rending.” will stop the illegals and stop the “tragic and heart-rending.” human trafficking, child slavery, forced prostitution and drug deaths. Sometimes you have to chose between “tragic and heart-rending.” and pure evil.

  6. It’s okay if you throw The Other in prison, because they are not one of us.

    1. Fuck off, you phony concern troll.

      1. Oh please
        Not another crude republocrat !

    2. Yup. The playbook is:

      Step 1: Declare the opposition to be The Other.
      Step 2: Declare open season on The Other.

      It’s much easier to intellectually justify to one’s self doing horrible things to people, when they’re not even regarded as people in the first place.

      1. Yeah it’s not like they are breaking the law or anything.

        Jeff you are a mental midget.

        1. I think the pc term is “mental little person.”

          1. Yet he isn’t little. Quite a portly tubbypork he is.

        2. Why don’t you explain to us all why the crime that they are accused of committing justifies throwing them in jail. Before they’ve been convicted or anything, of course.

          1. You said trespassing was a capital offense.

          2. Of course he won’t, because in his mind, they’re already guilty and deserve prison. And who knows, some of them doubtless are violent criminals and deserve prison. But the Otherizers, the ones who turn migrants into amorphous threats, “invaders”, and Caravans of Doom, don’t give the migrants the benefit of the doubt that they would reserve to everyone else – well, to those who are “actual people”.

            Throwing an adult in jail and separating the adult from the kid because the authorities suspect, with no evidence, that the kid is being trafficked by the adult? That would be outrageous if it happened to a “real person”, but since it happens to an immigrant, i.e., an Other, then it’s totally justifiable.

            1. You’ve been responded to. You said trespassing was a capital offense. Discuss.

            2. The correct way to deal with those, who are in the country, illegally, is to deport them.
              It is not punishment. It is merely returning the situation to what it was, before the law was broken.
              It is not punishment to make citizens of a country, live there.

          3. Jeff, this has been explained to you here many times by many posters. So cut the sophist bullshit.

            You are a tedious little weasel. So fuck open borders, and fuck you.

          4. No, I don’t think they should be thrown in jail. Just back across the border.

            2nd time, jail.

          5. We’ve covered this you fat shitweasel. Quit acting like we haven’t.

            This is part of why you are so despised here.

        3. Jaywalking is a crime, but you don’t get thrown in jail for it. And regardless, there is still this thing called due process, and the government is not allowed to lock people away indefinitely without going through due process.

          1. They are not citizens. If they are caught within 90 miles of the border immigration laws and precedent allow them to be detained. This is not jaywalking.

            1. You don’t have to be OK with such a ridiculous, cruel, xenophobic policy just because it’s the law.

              Libertarianism: where all the exceptions are for other people!

              1. Just because half-wits think a law is ridiculous, cruel, and xenophobic, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be enforced.
                Don’t like a law, get it changed, or shut the fuck up!

                1. I get how laws work. I just don’t expect to see “obey the law because it’s the law” passing for a libertarian argument.

                2. As always go, it’s just fine. These people shouldn’t be doing here illegally. I truly hope that when one of these great people,e that sneak in inventively commits a violent crime, that it’s against Tony. Instead of a good American. That would be karmic justice.

              2. Understand Tony is a troll, a sick person. Tony has my pity.

                The ‘Dark Triad’ of personality traits is characterized by psychopathy (continuous anti-social behavior, impulsivity, selfishness, callous and unemotional traits and remorselessness), Machiavellianism (manipulation and exploitation of others, an absence of morality, unemotional callousness, and a higher level of self-interest) and Narcissism (by grandiosity, pride, egotism, and a lack of empathy). Adding sadism (cruel or demeaning behavior to others, or intentionally inflicts psychological pain or suffering on others in order to assert power and dominance or for pleasure and enjoyment).
                I pray every day for you Tony, that you get professional help the brings you healing.

                1. Tony haelpsto make our lives worse. And he enjoys that. With his posting here, and his Marxist advocacy. I have no. Ore patience for these people.

          2. “Jaywalking is a crime.”

            Indeed and international jaywalking is an even bigger one worthy of jail time.

            “and the government is not allowed to lock people away indefinitely without going through due process.”

            No?! Where the fuck have you been.

          3. Citizens are denied bail and held before trial all the time. And these aren’t even citizens.

          4. Jaywalking is typically not a crime. It’s normally a civil infraction.

        4. Not giving is taking. Acknowledging people’s choices in choosing to obey or break the law is othering.

          You should have sympathy for them, these poor asylum seekers are little different than cattle who got spooked by predators and broke through a fence.

        5. Jeff, as usual is projecting his perceived personal flaws as others moral failings.

      2. chemjeff radical individualist
        February.9.2021 at 8:56 am
        Flag Comment Mute User
        What is there to talk about?

        From a libertarian perspective, Ashli Babbett was trespassing, and the officers were totally justified to shoot trespassers.

        1. So those illegally crossing are trespassing Jeff.. they can be shot right?

          1. If you can reasonably show they put you in fear or harm to yourself and/or your family, then yes.

            1. I dont remember reasonably being part of why the jan 6th cop was cleared. It was just he felt fear apparently.

            2. Do you think the threat posed by a lone, unarmed woman, climbing through a window, broken by somebody else, about 20 feet away, is deserving of an instantly imposed death penalty?
              If so, that that opinion would pass the “reasonable person” test?

          2. Wow, Jesse just showed how ignorant he is. So exposed!

            1. He did. It’s not difficult when it comes to leftists.

      3. Hahaha, this is comedy fucking gold.

    3. Liberalism – by Brandy

      1. I want everyone of these open borders advocates to be the ones who become victims of horrifically violent crimes perpetrated by illegals. Instead of good people. Then they can come back and run their mouths.

    4. Idiot – this is to you, chemjeff and Tony.

      The governor or any state cannot make, enforce, nor modify immigration policy because that’s a federal concern.

      Therefore – guess who’s responsible for immigrants detention. Come on idiots, guess. Starts with a B, rhymes with Tiden. I think someone in the back got it – you’re right, it’s Biden’s fault.

  7. The world, as Reason often points out, is becoming richer. When I first went to Guatemala in the 1970s a person living in a town of less than about 4,000 had to go to a larger town with a post office to make a telephone call. Now everyone has a cell phone, often one with internet.
    With the increase in income and access to information, the people have both the financial resources and knowledge to sneak into the US and know what to say when they get there. Their parents lived in crushing poverty – they don’t. They do, however have an average of 6 years education and little knowledge of English or any of American culture.
    Economic migrants will become ever more common. There are perhaps 2 billion people with the desire and the means to get into the US somehow and many are going to try.
    Some are in risk of their lives by reason of religion, politics, or ethnicity. Only those opposed to Maduro or Castro seem to fit any of those categories.

  8. “a state prison in Dilley, Texas, so that law enforcement can arrest and detain some undocumented migrants there”

    How does Binion know they are immigrants?
    There many kinds of illegal border crossers including foreign military forces looking to invade !

    Binion does NOT know. He is purposefully putting forth propaganda that ALL illegal border crossers be called immigrants ( or is totally naïve / ignorant in believing they all are)

    1. We don’t have to go that conspiratorial. How does he know they’re families?

      1. What do you have against human traffickers?

        1. They are asking for much too high a commission for my diamond mine orphans?

          1. [Applause]

  9. “Adults arrested and facing such charges will not be able to keep their families intact.”

    You mean like adults arrested and facing literally any other charges that result in detention can’t?

    1. Now you can explain why you think the migrants should be thrown in jail in the first place.

      1. They aren’t in jail you retarded fuck. They are in immigration derailment until a hearing is held. Like every other fucking country on the planet.

      2. Trespassing, like Abbott’s order says. Or would you prefer we shoot them?


      3. It’s been covered. Quit acting like it hasn’t you little liar. Every one of your stupid sophist arguments has been crushed many times. So just stop.

        This is part of why you are not worthy of civility or respect.

      4. Migrants? You’re being deliberately obtuse. You know what the topic is here.

  10. Where is the article about family separation when US citizen is arrested and thrown in jail?

    1. They don’t count.

    2. You meam like the US Capitol trespassers

      1. Well they should have all just been shot according to Jeff.

  11. Still no word from reason koch liberaltarians on people still in prison without bail for taking selfies at the capitol building. But crocodile tears abound for sweaty migrants illegally crossing the border.

    1. Go find an actual libertarian website for that.

    2. Unreason is staffed by commies and anarchists hiding as Libertarians. They were outed a long time ago.

      Poor Lefties just do not have things going well for them.

      They cheat on election 2020 and get el presidente Biden installed as puppet and America fall into civil war 2.0

  12. >>the Republican said family separations were “tragic and heart-rending.”

    can be these things *and* necessary.

  13. Politics..don’t count them

  14. You shouldn’t be allowed to call it family separation without providing data first that shows they’re actually families.

  15. O/T – For those of you following the mayhem in the libertarian party of New Hampshire – Joe Bishop Henchman (chair of the national party) just resigned.

  16. Gov. Greg Abbott Will Reportedly Separate Families and Throw Some Undocumented Migrants in Prison

    Here’s hoping he’s running for President in 2024.

    1. VP for DeSantis – – – – – – – –

      1. So you people are just looking for the biggest assholes you can find to soil the oval office? Do you care about anything other than them being giant assholes?

        1. Don’t act like you don’t love assholes Tony.

        2. Have you taken a look at the two jackasses currently holding POTUS/VPOTUS? Your giant asshole label works well.

          1. America doesnt have a constitutionally valid government right now. Its why America is in civil war 2.0

            Americans are slow to know how much blood the tree of liberty needs.

            1. found the fed

        3. We’ll never find another benevolent Super-Genius like Traitor Joe Biden to soothe and unite our tortured national psyche.

    2. Fuck that. He was fine with lockdown edicts.

      On the other hand, watching people like Jeff and Tony post insults about a cripple while pretending they’re any better than Trump would be hilarious.

  17. If someone is in the US, is a citizen of another country, but does not have a valid visa, they are almost certainly in the country illegally.
    They might have some reasonable explanation, but it seems unlikely.
    Also, it is not terribly unusual for a person to be held pending trial, especially if they are a flight risk.

    1. “In the country illegally”

      about 20 years ago some friends did a backcountry telemark trip starting in Canada. They crossed from Waterton park into Glacier park without arranging a border crossing. Their real mistake was mentioning these details to Canadian border guard when they were driving back to retrieve a vehicle. All were arrested, charged, and paid hefty fines. And have had added hassle at every subsequent entry into Canada

      1. The moral is stop going to Canada

  18. Well that’s certainly not what they were hoping for.

  19. Can a libertarian tell me why it’s important to keep Mexicans out of Texas?

    1. It’s called the rule of law. Look it up.

      1. Libertarianism used to be “most laws are bad.” Now it’s “bake the fucking cake or I’ll shoot.”

        1. Baking a cake isn’t close to analogous to immigration policy. Immigration policy is something that would have to happen even in a libertarian run country. They just wouldn’t force bakers to bake a cake.

          And just because “most laws are bad” doesn’t mean this law is bad.

    2. Only legal citizens of all nationalities. Not illegal foreigners.

      1. I don’t know what an illegal foreigner is.

    3. Cut the crap Tony. The topic is illegal immigrants, not “Mexicans,” and you know it. This leftist misdirection tactic may work with the ignorant masses, but it doesn’t fly here.

      1. Yet not even one suggestion to build a wall along the Canadian border. Or cancel all international flights.

    4. Why is it so important to you that they be allowed in?

      1. I don’t know that it is. I just know that lines on a map are arbitrary and were drawn by terrible people for terrible motives, and on this continent, usually involving genocides the scope of which the world has rarely known.

        It would be a bonus answer if you told me the actual goal of the policy itself, in addition to what’s libertarian about forcing innocent human beings into a cage of government’s making.

        1. History Flash. People have fought over land since the beginning of time. As of now, there’s borders, language, and culture.

    5. Because it’s not Mexico. You want to know something? Mexico isn’t Texas either so if a huge number of Texans tried to just walk across the Mexico border to set up living quarters and get a job, do you think Mexicans would be cool with it?

  20. “Undocumented Migrants” are actually illegal aliens who are here by virtue of BREAKING OUR LAWS! They should be in jail until we can put them on the first boat back home. They do not have a right to be here. There are millions of immigrants biding their time and following the rules in an effort to come to this country legally. We need to speed that process; not let in thousands of people whose first act in this country is to break our laws. This is our home. We have a right and a duty to know who we are letting in.

    1. I’d send them back immediately. Do not detain. If you detain, they could give birth.

  21. So all these “undocumented” migrants are coming to Texas to joining the Libertarian Party, right? They are signing up for REASON subscriptions, right? They are at least debating Hayek versus Mises, right?

    It goes without saying that these migrants are refusing any kind of welfare state programs, and not sending their children to taxpayer supported public schools, right?

    Or is it once again, REASON promoting an issue in which libertarians get nothing in return, then wondering why we are living in an increasingly unfree society?

  22. Some times I click on a Reason article and the link appears to automatically redirect me to a Salon article. Weird.

  23. CRIMINAL TRESPASS!! I’ve heard from very smart, intelligent and reasonable people worth listening to that it’s essentially a capital offense. Throw the book at them!

  24. Hey Billy Binion, how about we send all those *illegal aliens* and “migrant arrestees” (if they were arrested, how did they get out to do the migration?) over to your house? You being so solicitous and all, and given that the only problem you see is that they lost their “documents”? Maybe you can set up a printing press in your garage, hire some mariachis, send out for Taco Bell. C’mon Billy, make it old home week.

  25. Commies at unreason at it again.

  26. Can someone enlighten me why it’s the US responsibility to support the worlds poor? Yes they do live in shit conditions. However there are way too many of our own who are homeless and in poverty. Until every legal US citizen of all races creeds etc are out of poverty not one dime should be spent on supporting illegal foreigners.

    If people who seem to love them so much, pay for a citizenship application, house feed and/or clothe them. Be legally and financially responsible for them until they become a citizen. If you’re not willing to do that or put your money were your mouths are, please STFU.

    1. Maybe you’re worried about a problem that simply doesn’t exist.

      I can only find white guys to do my lawn now, after the Trump purge. It’s just whatever, but you need to understand that the “crisis” is a periodic chyron on FOX News and not an actual thing that’s going on.

      1. Nothing wrong with that. It actually forces employers to pay a decent wage to the legal citizens of this country.

  27. Is this a case of
    Reason Writers Pounce!

  28. Loading them onto cargo ships and selling them as slaves in the Middle East, Africa or Asia would solve both the illegal alien’s problem and the issue of the 3rd world invasion of the US.

  29. US citizens frequently have their children taken away on the basis of unsubstantiated “tips” and often sit in jail on minor charges because they can’t make bail. Why should illegal aliens be treated better?

  30. You misspelled illegal immigrants.

    1. “undocumented migrants”
      Is there any truth to the rumor that burglars will henceforth be referred to as “undocumented houseguests”?

    2. You misspelled “illegal aliens”.

  31. Isn’t Gregory Abbott that guy who sang “Shake You Down in the late Eighties?

  32. We have a federalist system with principle of dual-sovereignty. If the Fed feels Abbot is impinging on their exclusive sovereign rights, they will let him know. If the people of Texas don’t like Abbot’s policies, they will let him know. I suppose, from a libertarian point of view, we can say Abbot’s policies aren’t “libertarian enough” by our lights (or are just plain misbegotten and mean) and wag our fingers at him and say tsk, tsk, but aside from thrusting ourselves into the spotlight and grandstanding for attention, what would be the point? I believe in federalism and dual-sovereignty and I’m not a Texas voter or a US Attorney. Ergo, not my dog and not my fight. How much blood, sweat, tears, and treasure do you think the rest of us non-journo types have to waste on this?

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