The governor made the comments at a news conference in San Antonio with Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and Bexar County officials.
Abbott stated that he has been examining the possibility since he was attorney general, and that “there are some issues that we’re looking at that we’ve been provided no answer on.”
“The operation is as it would work is to put these people and deport them immediately. These are people who already have papers to roam freely in the United States,” Abbott replied when asked about the constitutionality.
“As soon as we drop them off across the border, they would just come right back across the border. And so all we would be doing is creating a revolving door.”
The governor went on to say that a former head of border patrol sent his general counsel a document that indicated state law enforcement could face federal charges if Texas takes that course of action.
“No one has talked about that. Then if you were to look at the opinion that was written by the attorney general in Arizona, that said a governor can invoke Article I, Section 10, et cetera, if you look at the next-to-last paragraph, it then concludes, of course, any action by the governor must be consistent with federal law,” Abbott said.
“What that is suggesting is that there are federal laws that law enforcement could be prosecuted under if they were to take someone without authority and immediately return them across the border. So, is it something we’re looking into? Yes. You know me well enough to know I will look at every legal issue about a policy before we undertake action on that issue.”
Last month, Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton requesting his opinion on whether the current illegal immigration influx constitutes an invasion. Krause referenced an opinion by Arizona’s attorney general and called it “compelling.”
Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution states, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.”
Abbott has sought to deter illegal immigration at the state level, though he has carefully avoided violating federal court decisions.
Some have criticized this approach, such as Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21), who recently urged the governor to “stop treading lightly” and “shut down the border.”
The Texas Freedom Caucus has also backed calling illegal immigration an invasion.
In a press release on Friday, Abbott’s office reported that Operation Lone Star has resulted in 236,000 “migrant apprehensions” and nearly 14,000 arrests of accused criminals, with over 11,300 being charged with felonies.
State law enforcement has also confiscated 3,800 weapons, about $30 million in currency, and 300 million lethal doses of fentanyl, per the governor’s office.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.