Texas

Abbott orders state guard units and DPS officers to return migrants to border with Mexico

In an executive order authorizing the enforcement Abbott said the move was due to President Biden’s lack of desire to secure the border.

Miranda Suarez
Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday ordered state National Guard units and Texas Department of Public Safety officers to return migrants they apprehend on the border to federal ports of entry.

In an executive order authorizing the enforcement Abbott said the move was due to President Biden's lack of desire to secure the border. The new development adds to Abbott's controversial state-operated border-enforcement mission known as Operation Lone Star that is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

"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,” said Governor Abbott.

Abbott's declaration contains several buzzwords embraced in far-right circles to describe the increasing number of apprehensions along the southern border, including that the Texas cities north of the Rio Grande are being "overrun."

"The Biden Administration’s decision to end Title 42 expulsions and the Remain-in-Mexico policy has led to historic levels of illegal crossings, with 5,000 migrants being apprehended over the July 4th weekend, creating a border crisis that has overrun communities along the border and across Texas," Abbott said, referring to Trump-era policies. Title 42 permits federal agents to immediately return migrants to Mexico under a health order and Remain in Mexico forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their immigration hearings in the United States. (Title 42 is still in place due to a court order and the Biden administration hasn't announced an end to the Remain in Mexico policy despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows him to do so.)

Abbott goes a step further and declares that Biden has failed to protect Texas from a so-called invasion. Under the Supremacy Clause of the United States, immigration enforcement is deemed a federal responsibility.

"As noted in the executive order, the Biden Administration ‘has abandoned the covenant, in Article IV, § 4 of the U.S. Constitution, that ‘[t]he United States . . . shall protect each [State in this Union] against Invasion,’ and thus has forced the State of Texas to build a border wall, deploy state military forces, and enter into agreements as described in Article I, § 10 of the U.S. Constitution to secure the State of Texas and repel the illegal immigration that funds the cartels,'" the statement from Abbott's office reads.

On Wednesday reports surfaced that Operation Lone Star is the subject into an investigation by the federal government for alleged civil rights violations, the Texas Tribune and ProPublica reported. The investigation was confirmed in emails the publications obtained, including one communication from the Texas DPS that confirmed the investigation. Under the Supremacy Clause of the United States, immigration enforcement is deemed a federal responsibility.

A group of migrants apprehended under Operation Lone Star have also filed suit against Abbott who allege Operation Lone Star is unconstitutional, the Texas Newsroom reported.

Despite Abbott's attempt to beef up his border-enforcement credentials, some far-right immigration hawks said his announcement doesn't go far enough.

"The governor does not appear to formally declare an invasion nor direct the National Guard and the Department of Public Safety to remove illegals across the border directly to Mexico," the Center for Renewing America said in a statement. "That is critical. Otherwise this is still catch and release.”

The center's leadership includes Ken Cuccinelli, who was former President Trump's acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you. Got a tip? Email Julián Aguilar at jaguilar@kera.org.You can follow Julián on Twitter @nachoaguilar.

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