By Bethany Blankley
Numerous news outlets and social media pundits on Tuesday misreported that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared an invasion at the southern border. He did not, according to an analysis of available data by The Center Square.
Abbott tweeted from his personal Twitter account Tuesday content from a letter he sent to some Texas judges on Monday, without citing the letter or linking to it. Some officials in Texas later explained to The Center Square that they found the tweet to be misleading and that they “jumped the gun” in response, misunderstanding its context.
In the tweet, Abbott said, “I invoked the Invasion Clauses of the U.S. & Texas Constitutions to fully authorize Texas to take unprecedented measures to defend our state against an invasion. I’m using that constitutional authority, & other authorization & Executive Orders to keep our state & country safe and includes the bullets listed in the letter.”
He did not include a link to the letter, however. The Center Square reported on the letter earlier Tuesday morning.
Abbott has yet to issue a formal invasion declaration. His office has not published such a declaration through an official news release or on the governor’s website. There are two official statements that reference the invasion clause, one in a July 7 executive order and another in a letter he sent to some county judges on Nov. 14.
The Center Square obtained a copy of a letter sent to a border county judge on Monday and first reported on Abbott sending letters to the judges Tuesday morning. The letter was in response to judges who’ve signed invasion declarations or resolutions calling on the governor to use his full authority to declare an invasion and repel it. In his July 7 executive order, which the Nov. 14 letter cites, Abbott authorized the Texas National Guard and DPS officers to assist Border Patrol agents in apprehending illegal foreign nationals once they’ve entered Texas and to bring them to ports of entry, and to arrest illegal foreign nationals for committing state crimes.
If Abbott had invoked his constitutional authority on Tuesday, “he would have done so in an official document, not from a personal Twitter account,” national security expert and Navy JAG Jonathan Hullihan told The Center Square. “No document, no order. If he’s using the same authority he already invoked, why didn’t he repel the invasion in July?”
All executive orders Abbott has issued are signed, dated and have serial numbers. No invasion declaration exists that is dated or signed on Nov. 15, 2022, or any other date, a review by The Center Square found.
Abbott issued the July executive order two days after Kinney, Goliad and Terrell counties declared an invasion on July 5. So far, at least 33 counties have done so. While many argue Abbott has done more than any governor to secure Texas’ border, his border security efforts through Operation Lone Star have not prevented caravans of 700 people at a time entering Texas every day, those supporting an invasion declaration argue. And if Abbott were repelling the invasion, he’d be busing them to the international bridges and to Mexico, not New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago and now Philadelphia, the judges and others argue.
On the same day Abbott tweeted he was invoking the invasion clause, he also announced he was sending the first bus of illegal foreign nationals to Philadelphia. By doing so he contradicted himself, critics argue. Busing people who illegally entered the U.S. to Philadelphia is not repelling an invasion but facilitating illegal immigration into the U.S., they argue.
Abbott’s actions are also viewed as “a political stunt” by border security experts.
Center for Renewing America’s president and senior fellow pointed out that Abbott “has not invoked the full authority of an invasion declaration. Saying you’re being invaded but not blocking the invaders from coming is a hollow shell.”
“Until Governor Abbott removes illegals back across the border and out of the country, this will continue to be a P.R. stunt – and Texas and the U.S. are worse off because of it,” CRA president Russ Vought and senior fellow Ken Cuccinnelli, who was also former deputy secretary of DHS and director of USCIS, said.
Kinney County Attorney Brent Smith said he was “pleased with the Governor’s acknowledgement of an invasion occurring on our border with Mexico and we are hopeful that he will soon take all necessary steps in deploying state military and law enforcement to repel it.” He also said Kinney County, which was the first to declare a disaster on April 21, 2021, and the first to declare an invasion on July 5, 2022, urged Abbott “to act without delay in securing the border by issuing a ‘Declaration of Invasion’ and invoking those constitutional authorities he cites in his November 14th letter to County Judges to secure our border and protect Texans.”
Former acting director of CBP Mark Morgan told The Center Square that for any declaration “to mean anything, the governor must provide DPS and the National Guard the authority to remove aliens directly back to Mexico without involving Border Patrol, CBP, or the federal government. He must also direct them to prevent illegal entry,” otherwise it won’t “have the impact needed.”
He also said, “While Operation Lone Star has been an effective enforcement tool, it hasn’t addressed the deadly results of the Biden Administration’s open border policies. Until consequences are applied to all those who illegally enter our sovereign borders, the crisis will continue.”