Immigration Fiasco: Texas Loses SCOTUS Battle but Could Win the War

On Monday, SCOTUS handed the Biden administration a victory in the feud with Texas over immigration. In a short order, the Court vacated an injunction prohibiting federal border patrol agents from cutting razor wire installed by the state on its border with Mexico. Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh dissented. In pending litigation, the administration contends that the wire encumbers and endangers illegal aliens crossing into the United States and that it hinders the border patrol in performing official functions. Texas argues it is simply protecting itself from an invasion, the smuggling of dangerous contraband, and transnational criminal activity.

The Supreme Court’s order does not prevent Texas from erecting more razor wire, it simply allows border patrol agents to cut the wire as needed to perform their duties. Hence, we will likely see a pattern of Texas putting up wire, agents cutting the wire, Texas repairing the wire, etc.

While vacating the injunction is a win for the administration, President Biden should not celebrate too quickly. According to results from the Harvard CAPS-Harris poll, as reported by The Hill, “More voters pointed to immigration than to inflation as a top policy concern in January [2024]. . . .The survey found that 35 percent of respondents listed immigration as their paramount concern among an array of issues, with inflation in a close second, named by 32 percent of respondents.” Concerns about immigration do not help President Biden. It strengthens the hand of Donald Trump.

Biden’s insistence on open borders also risks a constitutional crisis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott is invoking Texas’ natural/constitutional right to self-defense. In a proclamation issued on January 24, 2024, Abbott declared:

The federal government has broken the compact between the United States and the States. The Executive Branch of the United States has a constitutional duty to enforce federal laws protecting States, including immigration laws on the books right now. President Biden has refused to enforce those laws and has even violated them. The result is that he has smashed records for illegal immigration.

. . . .

The failure of the Biden Administration to fulfill the duties imposed by Article IV, § 4 has triggered Article I, § 10, Clause 3, which reserves to this State the right of self-defense. For these reasons, I have already declared an invasion under Article I, § 10, Clause 3 to invoke Texas’s constitutional authority to defend and protect itself. That authority is the supreme law of the land and supersedes any federal statutes to the contrary. The Texas National Guard, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and other Texas personnel are acting on that authority, as well as state law, to secure the Texas border.

Perhaps Abbott is simply grandstanding. But perhaps he will escalate the situation with the administration. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) has already suggested that Abbott ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the razor wire. Voices from the left are urging Biden to nationalize the Texas Guard to keep it from following Abbott’s instructions about border security. Again, the more turmoil around the immigration situation, the worse things look for the administration. Rightly so. Other than aiding a demographic shift to increase Democratic voters, there is no sensible explanation for the complete surrender of our southern border.

Yes, Biden prevailed at the Supreme Court this week, but the immigration issue might be the proximate cause of him losing the November election to Donald Trump.

William J. Watkins, Jr. is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the Independent books, Crossroads for Liberty, Reclaiming the American Revolution, and Patent Trolls.
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