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NY Times: Democrats Flip to Republican in ‘Political Upheaval’ of Border Towns

A couple of years after former President Trump made significant gains in often Hispanic-majority Democrat counties along the United States-Mexico border in Texas, a wave of Democrats in one particular community are switching parties to join the GOP.

In Terrell County, Texas, the New York Times reports that multiple elected officials are opting to run — for the first time — as Republicans rather than as Democrats in a “quiet political upheaval” across U.S. border towns, fueled mostly by rising crime and constant waves of illegal immigration.

The Times reports:

First, the Democratic county judge said she would seek another term — as a Republican. Then the county clerk and the treasurer decided that they too would abandon the Democratic Party, which has long held sway in local elections, and run this year as Republicans. [Emphasis added] A county justice of the peace felt the urge to switch parties as well, but she did not want to disappoint her parents, who raised her as a Democrat. [Emphasis added] The transformation of local politics in Terrell County — a working-class border community of fewer than 1,000 people — provides an ominous signal for Texas Democrats: Conservative Hispanics are not only realigning in presidential elections, but also in contests much closer to home. [Emphasis added]

The Times admits that the county’s elected officials’ shift to the GOP can be traced to President Joe Biden’s ongoing border crisis where more than two million illegal aliens arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border last year, and more than 2.1 million are expected to arrive this year.

It is border towns like Terrell County that foot the cost of illegal immigration and the death, despair, and destruction that it comes along with. In one case, a rancher in Sanderson, Texas, detailed how a young male border-crosser was found dead in his 17,000-acre ranch last year.

The county could not financially grapple with the rising number of dead border crossers found in their communities. In that sense, Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) allocating of $8 million to the county to deal with illegal immigration has been welcomed by local elected officials.

In Starr County, Texas, where the Rio Grande separates Texas communities from Mexico, the Washington Post detailed how a wave of Republican voters are creating a similar political upheaval in the wake of former President Trump’s massive gains.

The Post reports:

A turning point came in 2020, when President Donald Trump won 47 percent of the Starr County vote, up from 19 percent in 2016. About 6,000 more Republican voters suddenly appeared at the ballot box, even as the Democratic numbers remained roughly the same. In three neighboring counties of the Rio Grande Valley, the vote margin shifted toward the GOP by at least 10 percentage points. [Emphasis added] “I have always measured my words because we have to live here,” said Derric Leo Treviño, a 13th generation Texan running this year as a Republican for a Starr County justice of the peace seat. “It’s ingrained that we keep our politics to ourselves because they may fire your wife or your cousin. But Trump made it okay to admit you’re a Republican. He started the fire.” [Emphasis added] A popular State House member, Ryan Guillen, flipped parties in November and picked up Trump’s endorsement in his bid for reelection. Trump has also endorsed Monica De La Cruz, who is running for an open congressional seat previously held by a Democrat, which stretches north from the border to San Antonio. Republicans are hopeful that San Benito school board member Janie Lopez will be able to pick up another State House seat farther east, after the redrawing of district lines. [Emphasis added]

Abbott’s former campaign manager Wayne Hamilton, who now heads Project Red Texas, told the Post that record-high illegal immigration along the southern border as well as national Democrats’ shift toward a party that represents upper-middle-class interests over working-class grit is all part of the region’s realignment.

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