Former Trump administration officials are pressuring Texas Governor Greg Abbott to declare an ‘invasion’ along the US-Mexico border and give thousands of state troopers and members of the National Guard a new authority to turn back migrants, essentially conferring enforcement powers that were a federal government. responsibility.
The exhortation comes as the Republican governor prepares to announce ‘unprecedented actions’ on Wednesday to deter migrants from coming to Texas after the Biden administration announced last week that it would end a health care law which limited asylum to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It’s unclear whether Abbott, who wins re-election in November and is already installing more border barriers and allowing soldiers to arrest migrants accused of trespassing, backs aggressive proposals from former Trump officials. Abbott did not specify what measures he will announce on Wednesday.
Border Patrol officials say they expect up to 18,000 arrivals a day once the health policy, known as the Title 42 authority, expires in May. Last week, around 7,100 migrants were arriving at the US southern border every day.
But the way Trump’s former immigration officials see it, Texas and Arizona can pick up where the feds leave off once the policy ends. Their plan involves a new interpretation of the US Constitution to have the National Guard or state police forcibly send migrants to Mexico, disregarding immigration laws and law enforcement procedures. Border enforcement has always been a federal responsibility, and in Texas, state leaders have not pushed for such a decision.
Tom Homan, the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under Trump, told a border security conference in San Antonio last week that he spoke with Abbott but gave no indication as to whether the two-term governor supported the idea.
“We had discussions with his lawyers in his office, ‘Is there a way to use this clause in the constitution where it talks about invasion?’ Homan said at the Border Security Expo.
Homan described Tuesday’s response from Abbott’s office, which he said took place about three months ago, as “noncommittal but willing to listen.”
In Arizona, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has also come under pressure from within his party to declare the state invaded and use extraordinary powers normally reserved for war. But Ducey, whose term is limited and who is not on the ballot in 2022, did not embrace the theory and avoided commenting on it directly.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, issued a legal opinion in February saying Ducey has the authority to use National Guard troops and state law enforcement to fire de forces migrants. Brnovich is locked in a tough U.S. Senate Republican primary in which border security is a major issue.
The Center for Renewing America, a conservative policy think tank led by former Trump administration officials, is behind the effort on the right. It includes Ken Cuccinelli, a hardliner on immigration and a former Homeland Security official under Trump. He argued that states have the right to defend themselves against immediate danger or invasion, as defined by the “invasion clause”, under the “state self-defense clause”.
Speaking to a conservative radio station on Tuesday, Abbott’s remarks about constitutional authority were about Congress, which he said had the sole power to curtail the flow of migrants.
“We are going to take unprecedented action,” Abbott told KCRS radio station. “Congress needs to stop talking about it, needs to stop complaining about it, needs to stop going to the border and looking at it. Congress needs to act, just like Texas acts.
When asked if he considered what was happening on the Texas border “an invasion,” Abbott didn’t use those words but said he would discuss it on Wednesday.
Cuccinelli said that in practice he envisions the plan to resemble Title 42 enforcement, which circumvents US obligations under US law and the international treaty to grant asylum. He said he had not spoken to Abbott and said the governor’s current extensive border mission, known as Operation Lone Star, had had little bearing on the number of people crossing the frontier. The mission has also drawn criticism from members of the Guard over long deployments and little to do, and some arrests appear unrelated to border security.
“Until you actually send people back to Mexico, what you do won’t have any effect,” Cuccinelli said.
Emily Berman, who teaches constitutional law at the University of Houston, said the supporters’ ‘invasion clause’ is encased in a broader constitutional assurance that the United States must defend states against invasion. and domestic violence. Additionally, she said, the “state self-defense clause” states that states cannot engage in war or foreign policy action unless invaded.
Berman said she hadn’t seen constitutional clauses used since the 1990s, when courts ruled they had no jurisdiction to decide what qualified as an invasion, but felt it couldn’t be done. than by another government entity.
For example, Berman said, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine can be called such because it is an outside government crossing the borders of another country using military force.
“Just because the state says it’s an invasion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s so, I don’t know what additional legal authority gives it,” Berman said, adding that officials State officials can apply state laws, but the line is drawn to what federal law allows.
U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat whose district includes the Texas border, has criticized the Biden administration for border security and the end of Title 42. But he doesn’t support states trying to use new powers which would allow them to “do whatever they want”.
“I think it should be more of a partnership instead of saying, ‘Federal government, we think you’re not doing enough, and why not go ahead and do our own border security? he said.
Associated Press reporter Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix and Nomaan Merchant in Washington contributed to this report.