Republicans across the country are rallying behind Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in his legal and political standoff with the Biden administration over the state's handling of a surge of migrants at the Texas border with Mexico. The GOP governor described the flow of unauthorized migration along the Lone Star State’s border with Mexico as an “invasion,” arguing the state has a right to “defend itself.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection saw a monthly record number of 302,000 migrant encounters at the southern border in December. And since President Biden took office in January 2021, the agency has seen a record 6.3 million migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border, resulting in over 2.4 million migrants allowed into the country, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
“CBP remains vigilant to respond to the serious challenges we are experiencing across the southwest border,” said Troy Miller, senior official performing the duties of the commissioner, in a January news release. “As we have repeatedly said, CBP and our federal partners need additional support from Congress so that we can continue to effectuate consequences for those who do not use established lawful pathways.”
In March 2021, Abbott launched an initiative, Operation Lone Star, to take greater control over immigration enforcement. Since then, Abbott has pushed constitutional limits of state versus federal jurisdiction along the U.S.-Mexico border by installing razor wire and other barriers in an effort to deter migrants from entering.
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had the power to remove razor wire and other barriers created by the Texas government, though the Texas National Guard continued placing the wire despite the ruling.
Here are four main things to know this week about the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas:
Texas governor’s press conference on Biden’s border policies
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is scheduled to host a press conference on Sunday with 14 other Republican governors, including Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Arkansas and Brian Kemp of Georgia, who support him in a standoff with the Biden administration over the Texas immigration policies. The event will be held at Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, Texas, which is one of the busiest areas along the U.S. Southern border where migrants cross the Rio Grande illegally into the U.S. As part of “Operation Lone Star,” Texas officials directed the state’s National Guard troops to block federal Border Protection agents from accessing the public area in early January.
But the Biden administration says this prevents Border Protection agents from processing migrants and helping those who may be in distress.
'Take Our Border Back' convoy
A vehicle convoy of Americans who oppose the federal government’s border policies have several rallies planned for Saturday in three southern border towns in Texas, California and Arizona. The “Take Our Border Back” convoy claims its goal is to “send a message to all city, state, federal politicians and immigration officials,” who they say are “enabling tens of thousands of illegal entrants” to cross daily into the U.S. along the southern border.
The convoy set off on its multistate journey this week from Virginia Beach and is headed to Eagle Pass, Texas. On Thursday, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and guitarist Ted Nugent headlined a rally stop in Dripping Springs, Texas.
Guitarist Ted Nugent plays the Star Spangled Banner at the #TakeOurBorderBackConvoy rally in Dripping Springs. A crowd of over a thousand turned out to express concerns about border security. pic.twitter.com/J8zliafdLu
— Bettie Cross (@BettieCrossTV) February 2, 2024
Organizers of the group refer to themselves as “God’s Army” and say the events are supposed to focus on peaceful protest and prayer and encourage “law abiding, freedom-loving Americans” to join them. There are fears, however, on the convoy’s Telegram and Zello channels that the events could become “another J6 trap,” referring to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to the Daily Beast.
Florida to send National and State guards to Texas
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday he plans to send 1,000 National and State guard members to Texas “relatively shortly” to help place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border in the state.
“The goal is to help Texas fortify this border, help them strengthen the barricades, help them add barriers, help them add the wire that they need to so that we can stop this invasion once and for all,” DeSantis said Thursday. “And the states have to band together.”
Other states like South Dakota, Oklahoma and Iowa have sent their state’s National Guard troops to help Texas with border missions.
House to decide on DHS impeachment
In the coming days, the House will vote on whether to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Congressional Republicans are looking to punish Mayorkas over the Biden administration’s handling of immigration, accusing him of failing to enforce U.S. immigration laws and detain thousands of migrants coming to the U.S. by way of Mexico.