By Jack Phillips
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday he is invoking “invasion clauses” due to illegal immigration from Mexico, allowing his administration to use the National Guard to repel illegal aliens, construct a border wall, and deploy gun boats.
Abbott, a Republican who won reelection by about 10 percentage points last week, said that he will now “fully authorize Texas to take unprecedented measures to defend our state against an invasion.”
“I invoked the Invasion Clauses of the U.S. and the Texas Constitutions” to make the declaration, Abbott wrote on social media. “I’m using that constitutional authority and other authorization [and] Executive Orders to keep our state [and] country safe.”
That entails deploying the Texas National Guard to the border. The Guard members will be authorized to repel and turn away illegal immigrants who are attempting to cross into the United States, according to his office.
It also allows for construction of a border wall in several counties around the border and deploying the Texas Department of Public Safety to arrest and return illegal immigrants who crossed into Texas illegally, his office said. The agency will also be used to arrest illegal immigrants who commit crimes in the state.
The declaration will also enable Abbott to “deploy gun boats to secure the border” and will “designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.” Abbott will also attempt to “enter a compact” with other states in a bid to secure the border, while his declaration will also allow Texas to “enter into agreements with foreign powers” to enforce border security.
The governor’s announcement Tuesday appears to be unprecedented. The federal government is the entity that handles immigration and border security via U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement—while historically, states have enjoyed little latitude in enforcing immigration rules.
But since President Joe Biden took office last year, millions of illegal immigrants have crossed into the United States, drawing Republican condemnation and accusations. Abbott has been particularly at odds with the Biden administration’s and Democrats’ border policies, having sent hundreds of buses filled with illegal aliens to northern cities.
For the 2022 calendar year, federal agents have encountered about 2.2 million illegal immigrants along the U.S.–Mexico border, according to federal data. An independent group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), said that 5.5 million illegal aliens have crossed since Biden took office in January of 2021.
Outgoing CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, who announced his resignation on Nov. 12, said in a recent statement that Border Patrol would work with partners to “address the root causes of migration, expand legal pathways, facilitate removals, and take thousands of smugglers off the streets.”
The claim about addressing “root causes of migration” has been a key talking point for top Biden administration officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Vice President Kamala Harris, who was tapped as Biden’s “border czar” last year. In February 2021, the administration issued an executive order to call for “the development of a Root Causes Strategy,” targeting Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
Earlier this year, Abbott issued an executive order that told state law enforcement to “apprehend illegal immigrants who illegally cross the border between ports of entry and return them to the border.” At that time, he stopped short of describing the surge of illegal immigration as an invasion.