By Jack Phillips
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday ordered National Guard troops deployed at the U.S.-Mexico border to help state police make arrests, expanding the Guard’s authority.
The Republican governor sent a letter to Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, the Adjutant General of the Texas National Guard, to help the state’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) make arrests of individuals who face state charges.
“By virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas, I hereby order that the Texas National Guard assist DPS in enforcing Texas law by arresting lawbreakers at the border,” Abbott’s letter (pdf) said.
About a month ago, Abbott said during a border security summit that illegal aliens who commit criminal trespassing charges or other state offenses, including drug smuggling and trafficking, will be arrested and jailed. The governor also announced a plan to build sections of the border wall that would plug gaps left behind when the Biden administration ordered the halt of wall construction that was carried out under the Trump administration and issued a letter to the governors of 49 states asking for law enforcement support along the border.
Explaining why National Guard members should carry out arrests, Abbott on Tuesday explained in his letter that “more manpower is needed” to deal with the surge of individuals who are illegally crossing the border.
The governor furthermore argued that the Texas Constitution gives him the powers as “Commander-in-Chief of the military forces ” of the state. It also “likewise recognizes that the governor can call on state military forces ‘to enforce state law’ and ‘to assist civil authorities in guarding [or] conveying prisoners,’” said the letter.
“To respond to this disaster and secure the rule of law at our Southern border, more manpower is needed—in addition to the troopers from DPS and soldiers from the Texas National Guard I have already deployed there—and DPS needs help in arresting those who are violating state law,” Abbott wrote.
Since President Joe Biden took office in January, he’s issued dozens of executive orders that rescinded a number of former President Donald Trump’s immigration rules, including the “remain in Mexico” policy and border wall construction. Republicans, including Abbott, have pounced on Biden’s immigration mandate, saying both his policies and messaging are weak and encourage illegal immigrants to cross into the U.S.
Biden, however, has characterized Trump’s immigration policies as inhumane and ineffective. And this week, the White House released a plan for overhauling the immigration system.
“The Administration has made considerable progress to build a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system while continuing to call on Congress to make long-overdue reforms to U.S. immigration laws,” a notice announcing the plan reads, adding that the Trump administration engaged in “cruel and reckless immigration policies” that “exacerbated long-standing challenges and failed to securely manage our border.”
According to data provided by Border Patrol, more than 188,000 people were arrested by the agency in June, representing the highest figure in decades.