The Texas Governor Gives Orders For Migrants To Be Arrested And Taken Back To The Border
Immigration issues are yet to see a definitive height as Greg Abbott, the Governor of Texas, makes a drastic move that seems to escalate the matter.
The latest salvo in Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott's dispute with the Biden administration over immigration policy came on Thursday when he gave state officials and National Guardsmen permission to detain migrants who enter the country illegally and transport them to federal ports of entry along the border with Mexico.
The Texas National Guard and Department of Public Safety are allegedly given the power to detain immigrants who enter the country illegally or who "commit other violations of federal law" after Abbott signed a directive that purports to grant them that power. Additionally, the order gave state officials the authority to "return" these migrants to ports of entry, run by the federal agency U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
While Abbott has signed other orders aimed at the Biden administration's border policies, his order on Thursday is arguably the most aggressive one to date and represents blatant defiance of established legal precedent that the federal government alone has the authority to enforce immigration laws.
Abbott's order could be thwarted by legal challenges, as happened to another of the governor's orders last year that told state officials to stop cars they thought might be carrying immigrants who had been released from federal custody. The exact timing and scope of Abbott's order's implementation were still unknown on Thursday.
Abbott's statement was not addressed by a Justice Department official, who also represents the federal government in court. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which is in charge of the immigration and border agencies redirected questions to the White House.
Governor Abbott's past on immigration doesn't inspire trust in what he has concocted today, according to a statement by White House spokesperson Abdullah Hasan. Along the border between the United States and Mexico, Hasan has also criticized other initiatives the governor of Texas has undertaken in recent months.
Hasan claimed that the so-called Operation Lone Star "put national guardsmen and law enforcement in perilous situations and resulted in a logistical nightmare requiring Federal rescue" and that "his secondary inspections of trucks crossing into Texas cost a billion dollars a week in trade at one bridge alone without turning up a single case of human or drug trafficking."
U.S. immigration law allows the federal government — not states — the authority to apprehend, detain, question, deport, punish, award relief to, and otherwise process aliens who are in the country unlawfully or who become deportable due to specific criminal convictions.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the federal government has "broad, undoubted power" over immigration policy. The decision partially overturned an Arizona law that increased the state's ability to detain and punish unauthorized immigrants.
The legal basis by which state officials would hold, transfer, and arrest migrants following Thursday's order was not addressed by Abbott, the Texas National Guard, or the Department of Public Safety representatives.
In his declaration, Abbott outlined some issues he had with the Biden administration's handling of the record numbers of migrants who had crossed the southern border in the previous year. He also claimed that the federal government had "abandoned" a clause in the U.S. Constitution that charged it with defending states from "invasion" and other claims.
Abbott highlighted Texas rules governing emergency preparedness and the authority to assign law enforcement duties to the military. Additionally, he claimed that the Supreme Court's 2012 decision concerning the Arizona immigration statute left open the possibility of state arrests of foreign nationals when there is "reasonable suspicion of illegal entrance or another immigration crime."
Former senior DHS immigration official under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Theresa Cardinal Brown, predicted that Abbott's order will be challenged in federal court since it is based on an "untested legal theory."
"The word "invasion" has a precise meaning. Generally speaking, it would be an organized group that invaded from another country "Cardinal Brown added.
Abbott's directive did not include information on when and how state officials will use their new ability to detain individuals suspected of breaking federal immigration or criminal laws, in addition to legal questions.
The Texas National Guard and Department of Public Safety were consulted over operational concerns by Renae Eze, an Abbott spokesperson. Eze did, however, affirm that immigrants will "be returned" to points of entry "on the U.S. side of the border."
Abbott's directive was followed by the department, according to Texas Department of Public Safety press secretary Ericka Miller, but she was unable to "share operational specifics."
When it comes to President Biden's immigration and border policies, Abbott, who is up for reelection this year, has established himself as a strong adversary.
Abbott has ordered the transportation of asylum seekers to Washington, D.C. over the past year and authorized the arrest of migrants on state trespassing charges. He has also sent Texas National Guard troops to the border.
Texas has also brought numerous lawsuits against Biden's immigration agenda, persuading conservative federal judges to reinstate Trump-era regulations or halt several programs, including the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, which was shut down to new applications last year.
Republicans in other states and Congress, including Abbott, have criticized the Biden administration for the huge number of migrant arrests over the past year, blaming them on slack border enforcement.