Can States’ Rights Prevent Federal Immigration Anarchy?
Texas is doing the opposite of “sanctuary” jurisdictions, and other states may follow suit.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” —Amendment 10, U.S. Constitution
It appears Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the state legislature are about to explore where federal immigration law ends and Texas’s ability to preserve the Rule of Law in general begins. Due to the utter fecklessness of the Biden administration’s immigration policies — which set a new record for illegal minors crossing the border — Abbott has launched “Operation Lone Star” in an effort to combat drug smuggling and human trafficking in his state. In conjunction with that effort, Texas state Representative Bryan Slaton (R-Canton) has introduced a bill proposing that Texas itself should complete border wall construction initiated by the Trump administration.
How chaotic has the Biden administration’s response to the border crisis been? On March 1, a clueless DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tore into the previous administration’s immigration policies, while insisting there was no border crisis. Eight days later, Mayorkas was asking for DHS volunteers to deal with the “overwhelming numbers of migrants seeking access to this country along the Southwest Border.” He added, “President Biden and I are committed to ensuring our Nation has a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system while continuing to balance all of the other critical DHS missions.”
That is, quite simply, a lie. As this writer documented in his last column, the Biden administration is not only releasing COVID-positive illegals from detention centers but allowing them to disperse themselves throughout the nation.
And this particular manifestation of gross irresponsibility isn’t about to stop anytime soon: In the last two weeks, the number of children detained in Border Patrol facilities has tripled, and more than 100,000 migrants have stormed the border over the past four weeks ending March 3, marking a five-year high.
Texas is fighting back. Operation Lone Star will integrate the Texas Department of Public Safety with the Texas National Guard. Air, ground, marine, and tactical border-security units will be deployed to high-threat areas in an effort to prevent Mexican cartels and other smugglers from moving drugs and people into the state.
“The crisis at our southern border continues to escalate because of Biden Administration policies that refuse to secure the border and invite illegal immigration,” Abbott said in a statement last Saturday. “Texas supports legal immigration but will not be an accomplice to the open border policies that cause, rather than prevent, a humanitarian crisis in our state and endanger the lives of Texans. We will surge the resources and law enforcement personnel needed to confront this crisis.”
And if Slaton gets his way, a completed wall will also be part of the equation. “It is time for Texas to stand up and finish the work that President Trump started,” Slaton said in a press statement. “Let’s finish building the border wall now.”
Texas contractors will be given preference, and those who wish to participate will be required to participate in the E-Verify program that ensures workers are authorized to work in America. The bill also calls for a “border security enhancement fund” that instructs the governor to ask the federal government to reimburse the state for the costs associated with finishing the border wall.
Slaton wants it to be called the Trump Border Wall.
The same day Slaton unveiled his proposal, Abbott released a statement condemning the Biden administration’s “unconscionable act” of releasing COVID-positive illegals into his state. “Border security is strictly a federal responsibility,” it said. “The federal government alone has the responsibility to test, screen and quarantine illegal immigrants crossing our border who may have COVID. Instead of doing their job, the Biden Administration suggested it did not have the sufficient resources and, remarkably, asked Texas to assist them in aiding their illegal immigration program. Texas refused. We will not aid a program that makes our country a magnet for illegal immigration.”
Texas is not alone. Arizona and Montana have also filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration aimed at blocking regulations that limit ICE’s ability to arrest illegal aliens unless they are a national security threat, crossed the border after November 1, or committed aggravated felonies. “If asked about the poorest policy choice I’ve ever seen in government, this would be a strong contender,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement. “Blindly releasing thousands of people, including convicted criminals and those who may be spreading COVID-19 into our state, is both unconscionable and a violation of federal law. This must be stopped now to avoid a dangerous humanitarian crisis for the immigrants and the people of Arizona.”
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen agreed. “Meth trafficked into Montana by Mexican drug cartels has wracked our state. The problem will only be made worse if the Biden administration continues to allow criminals to stay in the country,” he added. “Enforcing our immigration laws and helping to keep Americans safe is one of the federal government’s most important functions. The Biden administration is failing its basic responsibility to Americans.”
Can these states succeed? In 2012, the U.S. Supreme court ruled against key parts of an Arizona law that sought to deter illegal immigration. “The National Government has significant power to regulate immigration,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion at the time. “Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the State may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.”
None of these states are undermining federal law. Rather, it is the Biden administration itself that is conspicuously refusing to regulate federal immigration law to abet its contemptible open-border/amnesty agenda. That agenda also includes requesting and receiving the dismissal of three requests to hear cases with regard to the Trump administration’s desire to withhold federal funds from sanctuary jurisdictions.
That sanctuary jurisdictions epitomize the defiance of federal immigration laws? Again, Democrats and Biden have long made it clear that “selective” law enforcement, a.k.a. the refusal to regulate, will remain the order of the day.
Thus, Texas, Arizona, and Montana will likely inform the nation about whether the Biden administration’s imposition of de facto anarchy via policies specifically designed to nullify federal enforcement of immigration laws is legally tenable, or whether the Rule of Law, border integrity, and the safety of the American public can be maintained on a state-by-state basis.
The entire nation will be watching.
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