Abbott largely received praise from fellow Republicans for his headline-grabbing move, and the arrival of dozens of migrants in Washington was played on conservative news networks. Abbott also sparked controversy at the border with the now-repealed order for state troops to step up truck inspections, which led to extensive traffic and protests by drivers.
The latest moves mark an audacious step in a hot-button issue that is a top animator for Republicans by a skilled operator rumored to have ambitions beyond Austin. And party insiders forecast the latest moves, while controversial, will be well received by an already amped-up base.
“I think so far it’s playing well with Republicans because they clearly want their elected officials to be tough on illegal immigration. They want to make sure that security comes first,” said Brendan Steinhauser, a Texas-based GOP strategist and member of the Texas State Guard whose unit was deployed to help set up the operation to bus the migrants to Washington.