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Abbott Doubles Down on Border Security, Cites Constitutional Duty To Fight Against Invasion

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is intensifying his border security efforts in response to what he perceives as a constitutional failure by the federal government in securing the state’s southern border. This move includes reinforcing razor wire barriers, even after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Biden Administration to remove them.

Governor Abbott’s Assertion

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In a lengthy statement, Governor Abbott claimed that the federal government had “broken the compact between the United States and the States.”

Record Setting Immigration

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He argued that President Biden’s failure to enforce existing immigration laws and his violation of them had led to a surge in illegal immigration, setting records.

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Abbott’s Official Statement

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The official statement said, “The federal government has broken the compact between the United States and the States. The Executive Branch of the United States has a constitutional duty to enforce federal laws protecting States, including immigration laws on the books right now. President Biden has refused to enforce those laws and has even violated them. The result is that he has smashed records for illegal immigration.”

Constitutional Justification

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Abbott cited Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, which mandates the federal government to protect states against invasion. He argued that President Biden’s inadequate border security measures constituted a breach of this constitutional duty.

Citing The Founding Fathers

Credit: Gov. Greg Abbott / National Governors Association

Abbotts argued that “James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and the other visionaries who wrote the U.S. Constitution foresaw that States should not be left to the mercy of a lawless president who does nothing to stop external threats like cartels smuggling millions of illegal immigrants across the border. That is why the Framers included both Article IV, § 4, which promises that the federal government ‘shall protect each [State] against invasion,’ and Article I, § 10, Clause 3, which acknowledges ‘the States’ sovereign interest in protecting their borders.’”

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Right to Self-Defense

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Governor Abbott invoked Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the Constitution, asserting that it reserved the right of self-defense for the state.

Arizona v. United States

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He referenced former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the 2012 case Arizona v. United States to support this argument.

Legal and Scholarly Perspectives

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Legal scholars, however, have raised questions about the characterization of the situation as an “invasion.”

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“Metaphorically” An Invasion

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Some argue that while it may be metaphorically labeled as an invasion, it does not align with the kind of invasion envisaged by the Constitution in 1787.

Continuation of Previous Argument

In November 2022, Governor Abbott had made similar arguments in a letter to the Biden Administration, declaring a border invasion. It remains unclear what distinguishes Wednesday’s statement from previous ones, aside from Texas’s determination to pursue its stance.

Supreme Court’s Recent Decision

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On Monday, the Supreme Court vacated an injunction from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, allowing the federal government to remove razor wire installed by Texas at the border while the legality of the razor wire is debated in court.

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Permitted Removal

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This decision did not declare the razor wire unconstitutional but permitted its removal pending further legal proceedings.

Escalation of Tensions

Suarez, Mexico, 12-21-2022: Texan National Guard places wire and barbed wire on the banks of the Rio Grande to prevent migrants from crossing into the United States to request humanitarian asylum. — Photo by Laflota

Recent days have witnessed escalating tensions between Texas and the federal government. The Texas National Guard has taken control of a crucial border park, denying access to Border Patrol agents.

Calls for Federalizing the National Guard

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Critics, including Congressman Joaquin Castro, have called for federalizing the National Guard in response to Governor Abbott’s defiance of the Supreme Court’s ruling. President Biden has the authority to take such action.

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Joaquin Castro’s Statement

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Castro wrote on social media, “If Abbott is defying yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling, [President Biden] needs to establish sole federal control of the Texas National Guard now,”.

White House Response

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During a White House press briefing, John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council, emphasized that there were no immediate plans to federalize the National Guard.

Policy Disagreements

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He acknowledged Governor Abbott’s authority over the state’s National Guard and noted policy disagreements while respecting the legal chain of command. He said, “We certainly disagree from a policy perspective. But, legally, he is, by authority, the state commander-in-chief of the National Guard. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with every which way they’re used. And I won’t get ahead of the President’s decision space, again, one way or the other.”

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