In a significant development amid the ongoing border battle between Texas and President Biden, a coalition of 26 attorneys general is steadfastly supporting Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s assertion of Article I powers to defend his state “against invasion.” The move comes as the Biden administration faces criticism for its perceived failure to enforce federal immigration laws.
Governor Abbott stirred controversy last week when he declared his intent to utilize Article I powers to counter what he labeled an “invasion” at the border. The legal grounds for Abbott’s decision are now under scrutiny, setting the stage for a courtroom clash over the governor’s authority.
The 26 Republican attorneys general expressed their backing for Texas, asserting that the influx of “millions of people illegally coming into Texas as part of a coordinated assault on our border is an invasion.” They maintained that states must have the ability to defend themselves from such threats.
The border crisis reached a critical point last week when the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to temporarily lift a lower court’s injunction, allowing the federal government to cut razor fencing installed by Texas along the border near Eagle Pass. Despite the court’s decision, Governor Abbott insisted that the order did not prevent him from continuing to construct razor wire fencing, drawing criticism from the White House.
Addressing the controversy, the attorneys general clarified in their letter, “As lawyers yourselves, you must know that reports that Texas is ignoring or ‘defying’ the Supreme Court are wrong, either misunderstanding or deliberately misstating the law.”
They emphasized that the Supreme Court’s order did not prescribe specific actions for Texas, commending the state for its efforts to protect the border despite the federal government’s ability to cut the barriers.
Quoting Article I, section 10, clause 3 of the Constitution, the attorneys general argued that states have the right to act in self-defense under certain circumstances. They pointed to Article I, Section 10, which, according to Abbott, was “triggered” by Biden’s perceived inaction at the border. This section specifies that states can engage in war or respond to an invasion without the consent of Congress.
Referencing a 2012 Supreme Court case, the attorneys general quoted the late Justice Scalia, who asserted that states have a “sovereign interest in protecting their borders.”
Highlighting the security risks associated with the border situation, they pointed out that criminal elements, including cartels and terror groups, exploit the chaos to orchestrate mass influxes. They argued that millions of people illegally entering Texas constitute an invasion, overwhelming the state’s capacity to manage the situation and posing potential threats.
Attorneys General Brenna Bird of Iowa and Sean Reyes of Utah, leaders of the coalition, emphasized the urgency of the matter. Since Biden’s inauguration in 2021, they noted that over 6 million illegal immigrants have crossed the southern border, equating it to adding the populations of Iowa and Utah to the country in less than three years.
“The invasion on our southern border has made every state a border state,” said Attorney General Bird, emphasizing that if the Biden administration fails to secure the border, states have the constitutional authority to defend themselves.
Echoing this sentiment, Attorney General Reyes asserted, “Texas’ fight is our fight, and if the White House will not defend our laws and innocent citizens, states have the authority under the U.S. Constitution to defend themselves.”