“It’s a sad day when local leaders have to effectively declare themselves a Sanctuary County for the law-abiding citizen,” Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, said in a statement to Fox News Digital. ” That’s the new reality under a derelict President who has ceded control of our sovereign border to narco-terrorist cartels and abandoned the American people.”
Officials from several Texas counties on Tuesday declared the migrant crisis an invasion. The declarations are likely to put further pressure on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to make a statewide declaration, which some conservatives believe would give the state the authority to return migrants across the border.
“We want America to know that this is real,” Kinney County Judge Tully Shahan told reporters. “The Biden administration won’t do a thing about it. They could stop this thing this hour. They could stop it now. They don’t have the guts.”
The move by the Texas counties drew praise from Republican lawmakers, particularly those who have been sounding the alarm on the crisis for months. Arrington had introduced a resolution last year which affirmed the rights of states to defend themselves against drug cartels working across the border.
Rep. Jim Banks, head of the Republican Study Committee, had supported that resolution, and said that counties had “no other choice” than to take action themselves due to lack of movement from the federal government.
“Earlier this year I called on every House Republican to support my colleague Rep. Jodey Arrington’s resolution reaffirming the constitutional right for border states to defend their communities against invasion,” Banks said in a statement. “The Biden administration’s refusal to enforce America’s immigration laws has left state and local jurisdictions no other choice than to step in to defend our border and national sovereignty.”
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, who had appeared alongside the county officials on Tuesday, told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” that Lonestar State officials were stepping up where the Biden administration was failing.
“We are dealing with an invasion,” he said. “We are dealing with Texans dying from fentanyl pouring into our communities. Our ranchers are getting overrun, their livestock are getting out, their fences are getting cut. Our communities are dealing with that. So all of these leaders in the counties in south Texas are asking for is that Texas step up, and we go do what the federal government refuses to do.”
The official House Republican Twitter account tweeted that “President Biden’s open-border policies have incentivized an invasion.”
“Americans deserve an open border,” it said.
The push for invasion declarations has been promoted since last year by former Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Russ Vought and former acting deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, both now at the Center for Renewing America.
They have pointed to language in Article I of the Constitution, which allows for States to “engage in War” when it has been “actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay” without the approval of Congress. They also note Article IV says the U.S. “shall protect each [state] against invasion.”
The push paid off in February, when Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued a legal opinion declaring the crisis an invasion and argued that the definition of “invasion” contained under the U.S. Constitution is not limited to hostile foreign states, and can include “hostile non-state actors.”
“The violence and lawlessness at the border caused by transnational cartels and gangs satisfies the definition of an ‘invasion’ under the U.S. Constitution, and Arizona therefore has the power to defend itself from this invasion under the Governor’s authority as Commander-in-Chief,” Brnovich wrote.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., this week called for Arizona to officially declare an invasion at the border.
“Arizona must declare an invasion at its southern border. The definition of ‘invasion’ in the Constitution is not limited to hostile foreign states, and can include ‘hostile non-state actors.’ Drugs and criminals are pouring across our border and it requires a response,” he tweeted.
Cuccinelli told Fox News Digital this week that the move was significant and would put pressure on Abbott to take similar action.
“The key here is you’ve got the first legal ruling that the southern border situation is an invasion,” he said. ” One, that’s obviously very significant, and two it’s going to — as it should — put enormous pressure on Governor Abbott to adopt that position themselves and to respond accordingly.”
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Abbott press secretary Renae Eze said “All strategies remain on the table as Texas continues stepping up in the federal government’s absence.”
Eze noted the slew of moves made by Abbott in response to the crisis, including under Operation Lone Star — which has surged resources to the Texas border.
“While President Biden ignores the ever-growing humanitarian crisis, and Congressional members visit the border for photo-ops and then return to Washington to do nothing, Texas has deployed thousands of Texas National Guard soldiers and DPS troopers and spent over $ 4 billion of Texas taxpayer money to secure our border, including building our own border wall, erecting strategic barriers, and sending significant resources to help our local partners as was mentioned repeatedly in the Brackettville press conference, Eze said.
She said the operations have resulted in over 274,000 migrant apprehensions, nearly 17,000 criminal arrests, 22,000 turnbacks and the seizure of millions of doses of fentanyl.
“It’s past time for President Biden—and for both parties in Congress—to do their jobs and secure our southern border,” she said. “As the challenges on the border continue to increase, Texas will continue to take additional unprecedented action to address those challenges caused by the Biden administration.”
Fox News’ Louis Casiano and Elizabeth Heckman contributed to this report.