Cornyn made the remarks in a conference call with reporters, according to KERA News.
“I realize different people have used different terms to describe what’s happening at the border,” the senator said. “I would prefer to call it a humanitarian, public safety and public health crisis. I think the word ‘invasion’ brings up some other connotations which I don’t think really apply here.”
Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have repeatedly called illegal immigration an “invasion,” as well as other Republican elected officials.
Abbott even cited portions of the state and federal constitutions that allow states to respond to invasions in the federal government’s absence. The governor has not ordered state police and National Guardsmen to deport illegal aliens as some have called for him to do, but he has ordered that they be returned to the border to be arrested by federal authorities.
Earlier this year, the governor stated that he was considering directing state authorities to deport illegal immigrants, but feared it would be ineffective and could even result in prosecutions of state law enforcement officers and National Guardsmen.
In an interview with The Texan last week, former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan praised Abbott’s assertive actions to deter illegal immigration.
“When the governor declared an invasion under the Constitution, under the state self-help clause, it was very encouraging … because he’s literally declaring war against the cartels. That gives him the authority and the tools to do basically whatever he needs to do to protect his state — and that includes removing illegal aliens,” Morgan said.
Morgan added that he hopes Abbott will reconsider his position on the deportation issue, saying he believes the risk of legal liability is not necessarily as serious as the governor contends.
“Governor Abbott has done more than any other governor in this country to fill the void left by this administration — the abdication of its constitutional responsibility to protect from threats outside our borders,” Morgan said.
Cornyn faced the ire of staunchly conservative delegates at the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) convention in June when he spoke about the Robb Elementary School shooting. He was virtually shouted down by many in attendance as he described a bipartisan appropriations bill that included some gun control measures and funding for school safety and mental health.
Skeptics of the legislation viewed it as an erosion of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The law is designed to keep dangerous weapons from those convicted of domestic violence. It also expanded background checks to include records of juvenile delinquency.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."