(The Center Square) – Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday issued an executive order authorizing and empowering the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety to apprehend foreign nationals who illegally cross the Mexican border into Texas and return them to the border.
Abbott made the announcement two days after six county judges in Texas issued declarations of invasion and called on him to do likewise.
Those attending the press event with the judges, including Ken Cuccinelli, senior fellow at the Center for Renewing America, say Thursday’s order appears to only facilitate a statewide catch and release program, which is no different than what the Biden administration is already doing.
“The Biden administration’s decision to end Title 42 expulsions and the Remain-in-Mexico policy,” Abbott said, “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.”
Title 42 was a pandemic-related policy that allowed border agents to more quickly expel immigrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Remain in Mexico was a Trump-era policy that returned migrants to Mexico as their asylum cases moved through U.S. immigration courts.
“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,” he added. “The cartels have become emboldened and enriched by President Biden’s open border policies, smuggling in record numbers of people, weapons, and deadly drugs like fentanyl.”
In the executive order, Abbott stated that 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.”
In it, he authorized the Texas National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety to begin returning foreign nationals who entered Texas illegally to the border “to stop this criminal enterprise endangering our communities.”
He also cited Article IV, § 7 of the Texas Constitution and Sections 431.111 and 437.002 of the Texas Government Code authorizing him to direct state military to enforce the law.
But Center for Renewing America President Russ Vought and Senior Fellow Ken Cuccinelli said the order means “no significant changes to current policy. This is still catch and release.”
In a joint statement, they said, “We acknowledge Governor Abbott’s recognition that the facts on the ground along the border comport with the Constitution’s understanding of an invasion.
“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.”