Texas governor could invoke war powers

The move would give Greg Abbott broader state powers to tackle the flow of migrants at the US border

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is weighing a plan to invoke real war powers by declaring an “invasion” at the US southern border to get around a clause in the US Constitution.

Abbott could declare an invasion to comply with a clause in the US Constitution which prohibits states from engaging in war unless they were “actually invaded.”

Lawyers for Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton met earlier this month to debate the plan, which would directly challenge the federal government, the New York Times reported. It would allow Texas state police to arrest and deport migrants, two people familiar with the discussion told the paper.

“If we do use this strategy, it could expose law enforcement in the state of Texas to being prosecuted,” Abbott said during a press conference last week, confirming that he was “looking into” the idea.

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Abbott has already mobilized thousands of National Guard troops and previously ordered checks of trucks arriving from Mexico. He backtracked on the vehicle inspections after truckers blockaded border bridges in protests, disrupting food supplies and threatening more economic losses.

The governor has also ramped up funding for law enforcement in border towns, directing more than $3 billion to border security overall. He has also overseen the construction of miles of new fencing.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called Abbott’s actions a “publicity stunt” last month.

Texas recorded almost 129,000 migrant crossings into Texas in March, roughly 11,000 more than during the same month last year. Officials expect the numbers to rise again when the Biden administration ends the pandemic policy of turning some people away at the border under the Title 42 public health rule.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended the administration’s handling of the border issue last week, telling Congress that it inherited “a broken and dismantled system” from the Trump administration, but had “effectively managed an unprecedented number of noncitizens seeking to enter the United States.”