Texas challenges Federal govt on border issue, says it has the right to protect itself

Washington, Jan 27 (IANS): Texas Governor Gregg Abbott is heading for a constitutional crisis with the Joe Biden government on the southern borders issue after he said the Constitution gives him the right to secure the US border with Mexico, but the federal government disagrees.

And they're almost certainly headed for a confrontation from a political crisis to a constitutional crisis according to media reports.

Texas was the last state to join the union of states after it liberated itself from the yokes of Spanish rule and later from Mexico. It is the only state that's allowed to fly its Lone Star flag at the same height and level with the national flag of Stars and Stripes. Other states can fly the state flag but only six inches below the national flag. Texas has also enshrined in its constitution, as a precondition for joining the union of states, that it can at any time secede from the Union if the state legislature decides so by passing a resolution and approved by the Congress.

Abbott is well aware of the above provisions and is virtually pushing the federal government to the edge citing a constitutional provision that he says allows him to secure the US border with Mexico by any means necessary to defend against what he and other Republicans have characterised as an invasion of migrants who are smuggling drugs, draining resources and generally wreaking havoc on the American way of life.

The Democratic party is pledged to keep its borders open, especially asylum seekers who fear persecution from dictatorships and authoritarian regimes in South America and Central America. Texas and California bordering Mexico have seen a massive influx of illegal migrants across the porous borders by "Coyotes" and a few narco smugglers also slip in. The US has seen a massive migration of people from Venezuela numbering over 300,000 till date due to the unstable political regime there.

Given the above scenario, the stalemate Republican Abbot has created for President Biden and Democratic Mayors in New York Eric Adams has been horrendous. Abbot along with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have shifted their responsibility of taking care of the migrants and instead shipped them in busloads to mainly New York city and Michigan.

New York City mayor Eric Adam has time and again appealed to President Biden to increase funding for the world's financial capital as his administration was pushed beyond the limits to deplete the treasuries to take care of the migrants. In fact, Adams had sued some of the bus companies over $700 million dollars for bringing them to New York city without his consent, reports said.

Though the federal government led by Biden has the final authority over the borders which its pledged to keep open and republicans want it fenced or wall bordered, Abbot has created a constitutional crisis catapulting the nation and the immigration issue from a humanitarian crisis to a constitutional crisis – potentially teeing up yet another controversial issue for the Supreme court ahead of the 2024 presidential election, which Republicans are keen on making a referendum on border security. To counter democrats who have put the right to abortion of women on top of the election agenda.

The Biden administration, bolstered by a ruling from the high Court earlier this week, contests that it has the ultimate authority over what strategies can and cannot be employed to stem the flow of migrants. Seeking his own interpretation of the constitution , far-from universally accepted - interpretation of the Constitution, Abbott is seeking for Texas the right to act on its own, media reports said .

"The federal government has broken the compact between the United States and the States," Abbott charged in a statement issued on Wednesday, citing Article IV of the Constitution, which guarantees to states that the federal government "shall protect each of them against Invasion."

"The Executive Branch of the United States has a constitutional duty to enforce federal laws protecting States, including immigration laws on the books right now. President Biden has refused to enforce those laws and has even violated them," Abbott charged.

Abbot accused Biden of being a "lawless president who does nothing to stop external threats like cartels smuggling millions of illegal immigrants across the border."

The failure of the Biden administration to protect the border, Abbott argued, triggers Article I of the Constitution, which is where things get legally tricky. A section of that article prohibits states in most cases from entering independent compacts with foreign governments or waging wars. But it adds the key qualifier that the prohibitions apply to the states "unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay."

As Republicans resort to using the term "invasion" to characterise the movement of immigrants and goods into the country, Abbott appears to be forcing a confrontation with the White House and the federal government. "For these reasons, I have already declared an invasion," he wrote, "to invoke Texas' constitutional authority to defend and protect itself. That authority is the supreme law of the land and supersedes any federal statutes to the contrary."

Many constitutional scholars say Abbott's legal arguments are shaky. "The argument that Abbott is seeking to make - that immigration across the border constitutes an act of invasion - is a very broad interpretation of the word invasion," says Bertrall Ross, law professor at the University of Virginia and director of the Karsh Center for Law and Democracy. "It's more in line with the rhetoric of our politics than with what the founders had in mind."

James Madison dedicated part of his 'Report of 1800' to specifically note that illegal immigration is not a form of invasion. "I don't know how serious Texas is about litigating this," he says. "The legal claims seem extraordinarily weak." "I don't see it having any legs in court."

Abbott's actions came on the back of a 5-4 Supreme Court decision to vacate a preliminary injunction previously granted by the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which had barred US Border Patrol agents from removing razor wire that the Texas National Guard had placed along the border.

While the high court's order does not bar Texas troops from continuing to erect razor wire, it allows Border Patrol agents to remove it.

Trump , the front runner of the GOP for the 2024 presidential nomination, has raised the stakes when he issued a late-night statement backing Abbott's characterisation of the situation at the border as a national security, public safety and public health catastrophe, and calling on states to mobilise and deploy their National Guard troops to secure the border in Texas.

"Texas has rightly invoked the Invasion Clause of the Constitution, and must be given full support to repel the invasion," Trump said. "We encourage all willing States to deploy their guards to Texas to prevent the entry of illegals, and to remove them back across the border."

The charge comes at a precarious moment for US politics, in which former president Trump, who continues repeating unfounded claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, has amassed an ardent army of far-right supporters and has all but formally captured the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has been increasingly calling the shots for state and federal lawmakers - despite not holding office himself, media reports such as those appearing in USA TODAY said.



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