Former Trump administration hardline immigration officials are pressuring Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to declare that their states are being "invaded" from Mexico to give thousands of state troopers and National Guard members sweeping new authority to turn back migrants, essentially bestowing enforcement powers that have been a federal responsibility.
That push comes as the Texas Republican governor is preparing to announce on Wednesday “unprecedented actions” to deter migrants coming to Texas in light of the Biden administration's decision announced last week that it will end Title 42, a public health law that has limited asylum to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As San Antonio's KSAT reports, it's not known whether Abbott, who is up for reelection in November and is already installing more border barrier and allowing troopers to arrest migrants on trespassing charges, supports the aggressive proposals former Trump officials are pushing.
Border Patrol officials say they are planning for as many as 18,000 arrivals daily once the health policy, known as the Title 42 authority, expires in May. Last week, about 7,100 migrants were coming a day to the southern U.S. border.
"The way former Trump immigration officials see it," according to KSAT, "Texas and Arizona can pick up where the federal government leaves off once the policy ends. Their plan involves a novel interpretation of the U.S. Constitution to have the National Guard or state police forcibly send migrants to Mexico, without regard to immigration laws and law enforcement procedures. Border enforcement has always been a federal responsibility, and in Texas, state leaders have not been pushing for such a move."
Tom Homan, the former acting director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement under former President Donald Trump, said at a border security conference in San Antonio last week he had spoken with Abbott but gave no indication about whether the two-term governor supported the idea.
On Tuesday, while addressing conservative talk radio station KCRS, Abbott said this about the possibility of him invoking the authority: " We’ll be taking unprecedented action. Congress has to stop talking about it, has to stop complaining about it, has to stop going to the border and looking at it. Congress has to take action, just like Texas is taking action.”
In Arizona, the Center for Renewing America, a conservative policy think tank that includes Ken Cuccinelli, an immigration hardliner and former Homeland Security official under Trump, has argued that states are entitled to defend themselves from immediate danger or invasion, as it is defined by the “invasion clause,” under the “states self defense clause.”