An unusual standoff between local authorities and the federal government has played out on the Texas-Mexico border.. The battle over the southern state's right to defend itself against migrants is being called the biggest disobedience since illegal racial segregation of schools and buses in the southern US in the 1950s and 1960s.
offers insight into Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's attack on the White House, how nearly every Republican governor rallied around him, and the Supreme Court ruling that started it all.
Barbed wire and the Supreme Court decision
In response to the growing influx of illegal migrants, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Operation Lone Star in March 2021, which deployed the Texas National Guard and other state law enforcement agencies along the border with Mexico.. By the fall of 2023, these security forces had strung nearly 70,000 rolls of razor wire along the banks of the Rio Grande River, irritating Customs and Border Protection officials.. Federal agents began cutting and destroying accordion wire to allow free movement for themselves or endangered migrants.
In October 2023, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration. In his lawsuit, he demanded a ban on cutting fences, calling it the destruction of government property to “help” migrants cross the border.
In December, a federal appeals court sided with Texas, blocking the feds from removing barbed wire.. Then the US Department of Justice appealed to the Supreme Court, which urgently considered the claim and on January 22, 2024, by five votes to four, supported the Biden administration. The highest court overturned the ban on cutting fences and gave federal authorities the right to dismantle the barriers erected by Texans.
How Abbott defied a Supreme Court ruling
The situation escalated on January 10, when the state of Texas took over Shelby Park, owned by the city of Eagle Pass and adjacent to the Rio Grande River.. The Texas National Guard has fenced off this popular entry point for illegal migrants with razor wire and denied Border Patrol access to it.
Following the Supreme Court's decision, the Biden administration has demanded that Texas authorities allow federal authorities access to the border by Friday, January 26.. However, the state responded with a categorical refusal. On January 22, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that the region would continue to defend its sovereignty, and two days later Greg Abbott officially stated: Joe Biden does not respect the US Constitution, so his orders can be ignored.
“Taking advantage of President Biden's lawless border policies, over 6 million illegal migrants have crossed our southern border in just three years.. That's more than the population of 33 different states in this country. The unlawful failure to defend the States has caused unprecedented harm to people throughout the United States,” wrote Greg Abbott.
The governor referred to two formulations of the US Constitution, one of which obliges the federal government to “defend each state from invasion,” and the second leaves it to the region to do this independently. According to him, Joe Biden did not fulfill the first point, and therefore Texas exercised its constitutional right to independently defend itself from migrant invasion.
Republicans, including 25 governors, rallied to Abbott 's defense
Texas' position was supported by former US President Donald Trump. He accused White House President Joe Biden of turning “the most secure border in history” into a “national disaster” and on January 25 issued a call for “all willing states to send their National Guard to Texas to prevent the invasion of illegal immigrants.”
“When I become President, on day one, instead of fighting Texas, I will begin working hand in hand with Governor Abbott and other border states to stop the invasion, seal the border and urgently begin the largest domestic deportation operation in US history ,” — wrote Donald Trump.
Following this, all but one Republican governor from 25 states spoke out in support of Texas.. Ten of them promised to send their National Guardsmen or police to the southern border in support of Greg Abbott.
“President Biden and his administration have left Americans and our country catastrophically vulnerable to an unprecedented surge of illegal migrants.. Instead of upholding the law and protecting the border, the Biden Administration is attacking and slamming Texas for its efforts to keep American citizens safe from historic levels of illegal immigration, deadly drugs like fentanyl, and terrorists entering the United States,” the 25 governors said in a statement.
Will Biden Federalize the Texas National Guard?
Democrats believe that Abbott exceeded his authority, since protecting the US state border is the prerogative of the federal government. Joe Biden's allies are urging him to take control of the Texas National Guard.
A similar “nuclear measure” was used in 1957 by then-President Dwight Eisenhower. He federalized the Arkansas National Guard, which prevented nine black children in Little Rock from going to school.. Six years later, in 1963, John Kennedy also took control of the Alabama National Guard to pave the way for black students to attend the University of Alabama.
Joe Biden must follow their example to implement the will of the Supreme Court and prevent chaos on the southern border, Democratic congressmen from Texas Joaquin Castro and Greg Casar are convinced.
“Greg Abbott continues to use political stunts and provocative language to advance his own agenda.. He violates the Constitution, endangering US citizens and asylum seekers. Abbott follows Donald Trump's playbook: makes immigration difficult and more dangerous. This will only push refugees into the hands of the cartels, and the system remains broken. We can create a safe, orderly and humane immigration system. Democrats must make barbed wire, inhumane cages and unworkable measures a thing of the past,” Greg Casar described his position.
Critics say Biden has no easy way out of conflict. If he doesn't rein in Greg Abbott, he will strengthen his rebellious spirit and lead to an escalation of the confrontation on the southern border. By subduing the Texas National Guard, he will be able to suppress the riot, but will lose a lot of political points. Opponents will call him the first president in history to activate soldiers not to protect the States, but to reduce security. Both options are bad. Therefore, perhaps the least of the evils for the US President would be to accept the Republicans’ conditions for blocking the southern border in conjunction with unblocking funding for Ukraine and Israel.