Sunday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott continued his defiance against the White House at the U.S.-Mexico border in Eagle Pass, speaking in the public park he has seized state control over, preventing federal agents from doing foot patrols in, intending to send a political message about immigration and border security in a presidential election year.
He was joined by 14 of the 24 other Republican governors in Shelby Park who co-signed a letter claiming that the Biden administration has violated the federal government’s “compact” with the states — an abdication that justifies state usurpation of federal authority at the border.
It is a remarkable rhetorical escalation in the disagreement that Abbott began advancing as soon as Democrat Joe Biden was elected in 2020 and later was sworn in as president in 2021.
That kind of language harkens back to the theory of secession the southern states used to leave the union when the Civil War started.
“Half of the governors of the United States have joined with Texas in our cause to make sure states can do everything possible to secure our border,” said Abbott.
He and the other governors also continue to use the word “invasion” in describing the immigration problem, claiming criminals are crossing into the country.
But the overwhelmingly vast majority of people crossing in between ports of entry are looking for asylum and peace and are not armed. And crossings in recent weeks are down overall along the entire U.S. border, including areas without such a heavy security presence.
Tucson, Arizona, which has been the busiest of nine Border Patrol sectors on the Mexican border, tallied 13,800 arrests in the weeklong period that ended Friday. That is down 29% from a peak of 19,400 in the week ended Dec. 22, according to John Modlin, the sector chief.
The issue was also at the forefront in Washington, where senators on Sunday raced to release a highly-anticipated bill that pairs border enforcement policy with wartime aid for Ukraine.
Just a day after Biden expressed "his appreciation for Mexico's operational support and for taking concrete steps to deter irregular migration" in a call with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Mexican immigration agency said Sunday that in the last week, they had rescued 71 immigrants – 22 of them minors— in two groups stranded on sand bars of the Rio Grande, between Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras. They were from Mexico, Central America, Ecuador and Peru.
Policy differences and partisanship between a Republican governor and a Democrat in the White House means Texas has advanced a state security program costing taxpayers billions including concertina wire, fencing, walls and National Guard deployments.
“Every state is a border state,” said Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen. “It’s incredibly important we stand with Governor Abbott and help.”
Not everyone was thrilled to see the Republicans in Eagle Pass, Texas. Protestors made their voices clear that they dislike the militarization of their community in the name of border security.
“This is what’s happening here in our community. Because not enough people have stood up and not enough people have taken a stand to say we don’t want hate. Hate has no home here,” said Amerika Garcia Grewal with the Eagle Pass Border Coalition.
They marched up to the park, many said to watch their children play sports or attend the local carnival, but they were blocked by police.
Abbott said he would continue expanding operations along the Texas border but did not provide details.
"We are here to send a loud and clear message that we are banding together to fight to ensure that we will be able to maintain our constitutional guarantee that states will be able to defend against any type of imminent danger," Abbott said.
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