Texas Governor’s Political Stunt Emboldens Extremists and Violates the Law

July 7, 2022
Last modified: 
July 7, 2022

WASHINGTON—Today, in a dangerous defiance of federal authority over immigration law, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order declaring that President Biden had failed to protect Texas “against invasion” at the border and authorizing the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety to return migrants into custody for violations of federal law and then transport them to a border port of entry. The executive order does not address what Texas law enforcement officials should do once a migrant has been transported to a port of entry.

The Supreme Court has previously said that states cannot carry out immigration enforcement. Authorizing state law enforcement to deport migrants could expose law enforcement agents to significant legal risk. In July 2021, a federal judge struck down a different executive order from Governor Abbott which ordered state law enforcement officials to stop vehicles which officers believed were carrying migrants who had been released from federal custody.

The following statement is from Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council:

“Governor Abbott’s latest election-year stunt is in defiance of the U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court and puts law enforcement officials in danger of violating the law. Federal law is clear: states may not carry out immigration enforcement on their own and migrants have a right to request asylum and to be processed under our immigration laws. Given the lack of legal authority, Abbott’s efforts are a transparent attempt to whip up anti-immigrant sentiment.

“The executive order is a threat to Latinos and immigrants across the country. It sows distrust and destabilizes the very communities Abbott purports to represent. Migrants seeking safety, protection, and a better life in the United States are not an invading army. Instead, this misleading rhetoric presents the real danger. From Buffalo to Pittsburgh to El Paso, mass shooters have increasingly cited false claims of a border invasion to justify their heinous crimes. Governor Abbott’s political stunt puts us at all at risk by validating the beliefs of extremists and promoting fear and hatred.

“Rather than grandstanding for political attention, Governor Abbott should stop actively resisting federal efforts to develop a safer, more orderly humanitarian protection system at the border. The death of 53 migrants in San Antonio last week makes it clear that doubling down on deterrence will only make the situation worse. We also call on the Department of Justice to immediately take action to halt Governor Abbott’s unlawful order.”

The American Immigration Council has a range of research and other resources on the cost of immigration enforcement, including experts available to speak on encounters at the border, immigration policies at play at the U.S. southern border, and Biden’s approach to immigration enforcement.




For more information, contact:

Maria Frausto at the American Immigration Council, [email protected] or 202-507-7526

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
[email protected]

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