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Abbott Vows More Aggressive Immigration Enforcement at Border

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott delivered new orders for his Operation Lone Star plan along the Mexican border and promised more aggressive enforcement actions, the Associated Press reports. In Operation Lone Star, Abbott has deployed thousands of state troopers and National Guard members, installed new border barriers, and jailed migrants on charges of trespassing. Abbott said that Texas state troopers would also begin stopping and inspecting commercial vehicles on roadways after their arrival from Mexico, which he acknowledged will "dramatically slow" traffic from Mexico. The new plan comes after President Biden's announcement that Title 42, a public health law that limits asylum, will end in May and a push from former Trump administration officials who have urged Abbott to take the hardest possible line on immigration.

The former officials are advancing a novel and probably unconstitutional scheme in which Arizona and Texas would assume unprecedented border enforcement powers by claiming that they are being "invaded" by illegal immigrants. The argument asserts that the border states are theoretically able to defend themselves from immediate danger or invasion as defined by the “invasion clause” under the “states self-defense clause.” What such a defense would look like is unclear, as neither Abbott nor Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey have embraced the theory. A plan using the invasion theory could involve state authorities turning back migrants. Still, any serious use of the theory as a legal justification is unlikely, as many constitutional scholars maintain that an invasion would have to come from another government. Resistance to adoption of the theory from an immigration hard-liner such as Abbott is further evidence that it has little practical use.


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