"Invasion" declared by Texas counties as southern border crisis continues
Kinney, Terrell, Jeff Davis, Edwards and Goliad Counties sign on to declare an invasion on the county level when it comes to the U.S. southern border. County judges and sheriffs from the 5 counties were supported by surrounding Uvalde, Medina and Burnet. The coalition of counties are hoping that this move will put pressure on Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton to declare an invasion on a state level saying, "The ongoing immigration crisis on the Texas border is not acceptable, and has resulted in a security threat and humanitarian disaster with overwhelming consequences to the residents of Kinney County and Texans, alike."
County Judge of Kinney County Tully Shahan signed the declaration saying extraordinary measures must be taken to ensure the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of county residents. Kinney County Attorney Brent Smith drafted the declaration invoking Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution and in Article 4, Section 7 of the Texas Constitution to formally declare the ongoing crisis as an invasion and call on the governor to do the same. The declaration requests that "the Governor of Texas, as Commander-in-Chief of the military forces of the State, declare the existence of an invasion on its border with Mexico and take necessary actions to preserve and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Texas."
The declaration is specifically requesting that Governor Abbott take action under Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution and "Immediately prevent and/or remove all persons invading the sovereignty of Texas and that of the United States."
Because the declaration is on a county level, no additional privileges will be granted to local law enforcement when it comes to exercising the power of self-defense along the border.
Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe says he will continue protecting his community whether or not Governor Abbott declares an invasion on a state level.
Former Chief Operating Officer and Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Mark Morgan says policies and resources need to be in place in order to secure the border. Morgan says this unprecedented declaration puts pressure on Governor Abbott and AG Paxton to declare one for the entire state.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich classified the crisis as an invasion across that state back in February. Because it is a state declaration, the AG argues Arizona has the right to use force "against transnational cartels and gangs operating at the border." The governor of Arizona has not ramped up efforts under the declaration but has criticized the Administration's handling of the border crisis.
Kinney County along with several other counties declared a local state of disaster last year, Governor Abbott supported the move and elevated it to the state level. Governor Abbott extended that declaration in June of 2022.
Lisa Conoly is a local rancher and part of the Kinney County Republican Women's group and says, "We support the efforts of our local county officials in safeguarding the lives of the citizens along the southern border and Texas. Our goal is that Governor Abbott and Ken Paxton would put this at the top of their priority list and come out with something similar for the entire state of Texas. I also hope that every individual across the state of Texas would look closer at how their communities are impacted and changed with an open border."
Terrell County Judge Carruthers says migrants from more than 100 countries have made their way through her county. She says she is a constitutional judge and will stand behind the constitution.
Since the start of 2021, 3,271,585 migrants have been encountered by U.S. Border Patrol Agents along our southern border. Under the health code Title 42, 1,815,321 migrants have been sent to Mexico instead of having the opportunity to stay and claim asylum. That means less than half of the encountered migrants, at least 1,456,264 were processed and released into the U.S., many with a "notice to appear" or a "notice to report" to an immigration office.
One of the major concerns for Smith and others is the number of "gotaways" (people seen on cameras or in pursuit bailouts that are never apprehended). More than 800,000 "gotaways" have been recorded since October 1st (FY'21). The majority of those numbers coming out of the Del Rio Sector-- Which these counties participating are part of.
Meanwhile Immigration attorney's are questioning the move. Devin Connolly with Reeves Immigration Law Group says, "I understand these counties are very frustrated and unhappy with President Biden and his administration's handling of the southern border. But calling migrants 'invader' is not the answer. This is not going to solve our country's immigration problems. On the contrary, in my opinion it may very well make the problem worse and potentially even lead to violence. We need our elected officials, Republicans and Democrats, to work together and pass long overdue comprehensive immigration reform."
Migrant deaths are also on the rise. More than 577 migrants have died attempting to live in the United States this FY. The United Nations Immigration Agency claims 651 migrants died last fiscal year. Law enforcement across the southern border are urging people not to place their lives in the hands of these transnational criminal organizations, stressing it isn't safe or legal to cross between ports of entry.
Lawmakers took time to answer questions regarding the declaration: