Invasion clause invoked by Abbott to combat illegal immigration at the border

The Texas Military Department plans to send M113s like this one to the Texas-Mexico border, according to a report by The Texas Tribune this week. Credit: Sgt. Matthew Lucibello/U.S. Army National Guard, 130th Public Affairs Detachment.

By Anton Riecher
In a letter to Texas county judges Gov. Greg Abbott explained his post-election executive order that invokes the so-called “invasion clause” of the U.S. and Texas constitutions to authorize stepped-up border enforcement to curtail illegal immigration.
Medina County Judge Chris Schuchart reported during the Nov. 17 meeting of the commissioners’ court on the letter sent to him. He also reported on letters sent to Department of Public Safety Director Steven C McCraw and Major General Thomas M. Suelzer of the Texas Military Department.
“All of these letters basically say that our governor is not happy with anything going on at the border,” he said. “Our president has failed us in trying to support the border.”
Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in March 2021 in a joint effort between the National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety to combat illegal immigration and crime at the border.
In his letter to the county judges, Abbott said that just two years ago the state had the fewest illegal crossings in decades.
“This past year under President Biden, an all-time record was set for the number of immigrants crossing the border illegally,” Abbott said.
In July, Abbott issued an executive order invoking the invasion clause found in the U.S. and Texas constitutions “to fully authorize Texas to take unprecedented measures to fight back against the invasion of our border.”
Use of the word “invasion” caused political friction in Medina County earlier this fall. More than 30 Texas counties approving “declarations of invasion” to push for federal help against increased border crossings, smuggling operations and drug trafficking.
However, Medina County approved a resolution supporting Abbott’s efforts at the border without the word “invasion.” At the root of the local impasse was the definition of the word as accepted by U.S. Courts, Schuchart said.
“The Supreme Court has never overruled three federal appellate courts who say an invasion is not illegal immigrants coming across,” he said. “We all agree we have a huge problem but it doesn’t fit the definition of an invasion.”
The letter to the county judges pledged to deploy the National Guard to safeguard the border and repel immigrants trying to cross illegally. It also pledged to deploy the DPS to arrest and return immigrants who crossed illegally.
In his letter, Abbott said he would build a border wall in multiple counties, deploy gun boats and designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.
“Texas had devoted more than $4 billion of Texas taxpayer dollars toward these and other efforts to secure the border and enhance public safety,” Abbott wrote. The letter calls on Congress to reimburse Texas for the money spent on border protection.
Schuchart said he spoke to Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management that morning about the letters issued by Abbott.
“His biggest road block is still the fact that the federal government controls the border, and unless he wants to start a civil war with the federal government, we are still going to be stuck with the same problems,” he said. “Maybe he can deter some of them.”