‘Stand with Texas’: Governors Back Lone Star State’s Self-Defense on Border
The governor of Texas is declaring his state has a right to self-defense against the “invasion” of unimpeded illegal immigration, and other red state governors are standing in solidarity. On Wednesday afternoon, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) issued a statement on the state’s constitutional right to self-defense in light of the Biden administration’s persistent negligence in securing the border. “The federal government has broken the compact between the United States and the States,” Abbott wrote. “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.”
“Despite having been put on notice in a series of letters — one of which I delivered to him by hand — President Biden has ignored Texas’s demand that he perform his constitutional duties,” the governor continued. “James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and the other visionaries who wrote the U.S. Constitution foresaw that States should not be left to the mercy of a lawless president who does nothing to stop external threats like cartels smuggling millions of illegal immigrants across the border.” Thus, Abbott explained, the Framers penned both Article IV, § 4, a pledge that the federal government “shall protect each [State] against invasion,” and Article I, § 10, Clause 3, which clarifies “the States’ sovereign interest in protecting their borders.”
“The failure of the Biden Administration to fulfill the duties imposed by Article IV, § 4 has triggered Article I, § 10, Clause 3, which reserves to this State the right of self-defense,” Abbot wrote. “For these reasons, I have already declared an invasion under Article I, § 10, Clause 3 to invoke Texas’s constitutional authority to defend and protect itself. That authority is the supreme law of the land and supersedes any federal statutes to the contrary.”
‘We Stand with Texas’
A spate of Republican governors has expressed solidarity with Abbott’s defense of Texas’s southern border — some have even mobilized their own National Guards to assist and support Texas. The day before Abbott’s declaration, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R) supported Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star,” which includes placing razor wire along border-crossing sites to obstruct and deter illegal entry. Gianforte posted on social media, “Governor [Abbott] is doing what [Biden] won’t. By refusing to act, President Biden is inviting cartels, illegal drugs, and human trafficking into the United States. We must secure the southern border.”
Once Abbott issued his declaration, even more governors joined the fight. Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma posted a video of Texas’s National Guard marching along the razor-wire-studded border with the caption, “Oklahoma stands with Texas.” Stitt mobilized his state’s National Guard last year to aid Texas. South Dakota’s Kristi Noem said that Abbott “is exactly right to invoke Texas’ constitutional authority to defend itself.” She added, “The Biden Administration has created a national security crisis and put Americans in danger. Their failure is an unconstitutional dereliction of duty.” Noem also sent National Guard troops to Texas last year.
Governor Ron DeSantis of the Sunshine State also sent Florida National Guard troops and law enforcement officers — over 1,000 — to Texas last year. He had previously sent troops to Texas and Arizona in 2021. In response to Abbott’s declaration on Wednesday, DeSantis stated, “If the Constitution really made states powerless to defend themselves against an invasion, it wouldn’t have been ratified in the first place and Texas would have never joined the union when it did.” He added that Texas “is upholding the law while Biden is flouting it” and pledged Florida’s continued support.
In a video posted to social media later, DeSantis doubled down, saying, “Texas has every right to stand its ground. If we don’t have sovereignty in this country, then we’re not going to be a country anymore.” He explained the legal reasoning and constitutional grounding behind Abbott’s declaration and criticized the Biden administration’s hypocritical, two-tiered enforcement of immigration law:
“You also have a situation where liberal jurisdictions over many, many years have been sanctuary jurisdictions against enforcing federal immigration law. So you’ll have somebody who will be a criminal alien, they will not be given over to [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], and they will deliberately act to frustrate the laws on the books — and somehow that’s viewed as okay. You have Texas, who’s acting to enforce the laws on the books, to ensure that they have a secure state, and that we have a secure country.”
He concluded that “it’s not a Texas issue, it’s ultimately an America issue.”
Virginia’s Governor Glenn Youngkin also showed support for Texas, saying, “Virginia stands with Texas. [Abbott] is doing the job Joe Biden and his border czar refuse to do to secure our border. The Biden administration has turned every state into a border state.” Alabama’s Kay Ivey, Arkansas’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Georgia’s Brian Kemp, Idaho’s Brad Little, Iowa’s Kim Reynolds, Louisiana’s Jeff Landry, Nebraska’s Jim Pillen, North Dakota’s Doug Burgum, South Carolina’s Henry McMaster, Tennessee’s Bill Lee, Utah’s Spencer Cox, West Virginia’s Jim Justice, and Wyoming’s Mark Gordon also expressed solidarity with Abbott and his decision, as did House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who called on Congress to hold Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas accountable for the crisis of illegal immigration.
The Texas governor’s declaration was issued in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision (Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh dissented) to vacate a preliminary injunction previously granted by the 5th Circuit Court. That injunction had barred U.S. Border Patrol agents from removing razor wire which the Texas National Guard had been placing along the border while the court prepared to rehear Texas’s case for border security. The Supreme Court’s order does not prohibit Texas from continuing to erect razor wire barriers but simply legally permits federal Border Patrol to remove those barriers.
In comments to The Washington Stand, Chris Gacek, a lawyer and senior fellow for Regulatory Affairs at Family Research Council, pointed out that the invocation of an “invasion” has not been a part of the litigation currently in the 5th Circuit Court. Instead, that case deals primarily with a dispute over a Texas tort law, with the state claiming that federal Border Patrol agents are violating state law by trespassing and destroying state property — namely, barriers erected at the border. On the “invasion” clause, Gacek commented, “If I were Abbott and the State of Texas — I would consider calling a special session … of the legislature and pass roughly the same document Abbott issued as a sense of the legislative resolution. If the votes are there, an expression by the legislative bodies of Texas that it deems itself presently being invaded as set forth in Article IV, § 4 would strengthen the State’s argument in court.”
Addressing the uncharted legal territory this issue is now entering, Gacek added, “This has never been litigated in the Supreme Court before because no one has allowed the United States to be invaded. It isn’t just a matter of allowing it to happen, they are facilitating it and directing it.”
Some Democrats have demanded the Biden administration federalize the Texas National Guard to prevent them from following Abbott’s orders. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) wrote on social media, “Governor Greg Abbott is using the Texas National Guard to obstruct and create chaos at the border. … [Biden] needs to establish sole federal control of the Texas National Guard now.” Rep. Greg Casar (D-Texas) echoed Castro’s sentiments, writing, “Greg Abbott’s latest stunt after yesterday’s Supreme Court order is malicious, unconstitutional, & against Texas values. Our country needs Congress to create a safer, humane, & more orderly immigration system — not razor wire to cut innocent people or laws that attack families.”
When asked if Biden plans to take control of Texas’s National Guard, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre cryptically replied, “I’m not going to speak to any actions that the president might take, might not take, but we have been very clear about it.”
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) pointed out the hypocrisy of Democrats like Castro and Casar begging for the National Guard’s protection on January 6, 2021, but attempting to deny Texas the right to protect its own borders with its own National Guard. Castro has previously faulted Texas’s National Guard for migrants drowning in the Rio Grande river last week, claiming that Texans had prevented Border Patrol from rescuing the migrants. However, the migrants drowned on the Mexican side of the river and Texas National Guard and law enforcement officials were not informed that they were in the river until after they had drowned.
Abbott and other Texas officials have expressed their gratitude for the support of other states and their determination to secure the southern border. Lieutenant Chris Olivarez, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said that Texans will “continue to hold the line” and “remain steadfast in helping to secure the border during these unprecedented times. We greatly appreciate the unwavering support from fellow Texans & across the country.” He also pointed out, in response to the Supreme Court’s order, “The logical concern should be why the Federal Government continues to hinder Texas’ ability to protect its border, all while allowing for the exploitation, dangerous, & inhumane methods of permitting illegal immigrants, including children, to illegally cross a dangerous river where many have lost their lives.”
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.