“This is unconstitutional, dangerous, and irresponsible. This isn’t an invasion and he knows it,” U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16) tweeted after Abbott announced his order.
Days later, Escobar referenced the border wall and asserted that “anyone claiming the border is ‘open’ is being dishonest.”
“Congress has failed to reform outdated laws for decades and instead, legal pathways have been blocked. Increasing legal pathways will help mitigate some human trafficking,” Escobar wrote. “Republicans in Congress know this but prefer the status quo. Dems will continue to fight for real solutions.”
Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution requires the federal government to protect states from “invasion.” In his executive order, Abbott contended that the Biden administration “abandoned the covenant” to do so and directed state police and National Guardsman to “return those illegal immigrants to the border at a port of entry.”
The governor previously issued an order to provide free transportation to the U.S. capital for illegal immigrants.
The language of last week’s executive order does not seem to allow for deportations by state authorities. In fact, skeptics of the order include conservatives who want a stronger response to illegal immigration — one that Abbott has argued could result in federal prosecutors filing charges against state officials.
Escobar is not the only member of Texas’ congressional delegation that has criticized Abbott’s handling of illegal immigration.
U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21) was among those who urged Abbott to declare illegal immigration an “invasion” and even shut down Interstate 35 until the federal government did more to defend Texas.
Roy has argued that the state needs to craft a way to protect Texas law enforcement officers from prosecution and litigation and that “it’s a risk we need to take.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Escobar cosponsored a bill with other Texas Democrats that would have decriminalized illegal crossings, stopped mandatory deportations, and taken other steps to soften American immigration law.
In 2019, members of the National Border Patrol Council and unnamed border patrol officers accused Escobar’s staff of coaching illegal immigrants to deceive the federal government to gain entry under U.S. asylum law.
Escobar denied the allegations and claimed that they had resulted in death threats being made against her and her employees.
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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."