In a major escalation to address the border crisis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered National Guard troops and state troopers on Thursday to arrest illegal immigrants and forcibly return them to the border.
Abbott's executive order came two days after a half dozen wary Texas counties declared they have been overrun by an "invasion" of illegal migrants and pleaded for more action from the state.
Abbott's new action stopped short of declaring an invasion -- an invocation under the U.S. Constitution that would allow him to use state militia to defend against the wave of illegal immigrants and keep them from crossing.
But it nonetheless marked a significant escalation of his efforts to address a border crisis that he squarely blamed on the Biden administration and its refusal to enforce the Title 42 health regulation and the Remain in Mexico policy that Donald Trump used to reduce unlawful border crossings.
“The Biden administration's decision to end Title 42 expulsions and the Remain-in-Mexico policy 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,” the governor said in announcing his new order.
"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."
You can read the full order here.
Previously, Abbott has shipped several busloads of illegal immigrants to Washington D.C. in a symbolic action and expanded law enforcement activities to arrest illegal migrants, but conservatives were pressing him for more action.
The new order empowers the Texas National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety to begin returning illegal migrants to the border “to stop this criminal enterprise endangering our communities."
Abbott's order also declared 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."
While federal law only allows the U.S. government to enforce immigration laws, Abbott said provisions in the Texas state constitution empower him to use troops and troops to return illegal migrants to the border.