The Republican governor signed an executive order empowering his state police and the Texas National Guard to deliver them from the state’s interior back to the ports of entry, or official border crossing points.
Mr. Abbott said he was compelled to step up after President Biden took federal agencies off the field with new relaxed border policies, which he said led to “historic levels of illegal crossings” in recent days.
“While President Biden refuses to do his job and enforce the immigration laws enacted by Congress, the State of Texas is once again stepping up and taking unprecedented action to protect Americans and secure our southern border,” the governor said in a statement.
He did not say what will happen to the immigrants once back at the border, though at the very least it could force some to re-run the same routes, and pay another round of fees to smuggling cartels, in order to get back deeper into the country.
Mr. Abbott had previously authorized state officials to bus illegal immigrants released by the feds straight to Washington. The governor said the nation’s capital should be made to feel some of the pain his state is facing from record-high border chaos.
The governor’s move Thursday comes a day after leaders of Texas border counties called on the governor to do more.
They asked him to declare the migrant surge an “invasion,” which they said would trigger a provision of the U.S. Constitution that would give Texas more independent power to police its boundaries.
Ken Cuccinelli, former No. 2 man at Homeland Security in the Trump administration, and Russ Vought, former budget chief in the Trump White House, have been advocating for the “invasion” strategy for months.
But the two men, now at Renewing America, said Thursday that Mr. Abbott’s move only delivers lip service to the idea.
“However the Governor does not appear to formally declare an invasion nor direct the National Guard and Department of Public Safety to remove illegals across the border directly to Mexico. That is critical. Otherwise this is still catch and release,” they said.
Immigrant-rights activists, meanwhile, predicted the governor’s order will face legal challenges.
“Governor Abbott’s order violates the longstanding legal precedent that immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility,” said Laurence Benenson, vice president of policy and advocacy at the National Immigration Forum.
• Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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