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America’s duct-taped immigration policy, which successive Republican and Democratic administrations and Congresses have all failed to fix in a comprehensive way, is about to be ripped in yet another direction.
- With CNN projecting Republicans will take control of the House in January, Democrats want to use the last gasp of their House majority to make good on a yearslong effort to give certainty to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children.
- Some Republicans, meanwhile, are using the language of war and aiming to make the situation at the southern border a key part of their platform once their party seizes the megaphone of a House majority.
- A federal judge invalidated a Covid-era policy left over from the Trump administration that has been used to expel migrants millions of times in recent years.
- US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus was forced out of his role last week by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
- The move will do little to quiet the criticism of Mayorkas by Republicans. They’ve promised to target him and his agency with scrutiny and investigations when they take the House majority next term.
‘Invasion.’ Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, fresh from a commanding election win in last week’s midterms and keen to be viewed as the border security governor, said he would invoke a clause of the US Constitution and declare an “invasion” at the southern border.
While he has used the term “invasion” before, his tweet suggested he would do more to militarize his state’s response and step in where he says the Biden administration has failed.
Former President Donald Trump also returned to that term – “invasion” – in announcing his latest run for the White House.
“Our southern border has been erased,” he said falsely, “and our country is being invaded by millions and millions of unknown people.”
Abbott argued his declaration would invoke a clause in the Constitution that gives states extraordinary power.
That text, from Article I, Section 10, reads like this:
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
That Abbott and others are equating a stream of unarmed migrants with an invading army is a case of major false equivalence. They also point to drugs that come across the border with Mexico and the drug cartels behind the illicit activity as a major problem.
There is no invading army. Rather than marauding troops, CNN’s many profiles of migrants have found families fleeing poverty, climate change, persecution and violence, and approaching the US border after a treacherous trek, often on foot, across the Darien Gap linking South and Central America.
The Biden administration, following in the Trump administration’s footsteps, has sought to deter migrants, particularly from Venezuela, who have increased exponentially in recent years.
Judge ends Title 42. A federal judge on Tuesday ended a Trump-era Covid-19 policy, which had been maintained by the Biden administration, to expel many border crossers from the country. In response to a request from the administration, the judge stayed his ruling Wednesday for five weeks to allow the administration to prepare.
The DC judge, Emmet Sullivan, called that policy “arbitrary and capricious” and said it was flawed from the get-go.
CNN’s Catherine Shoichet has an in-depth look at the policy, which has been used to expel migrants nearly 2.5 million times under the two presidents over the past three years. That language is important – many of those expelled under the policy have been expelled more than once.
Reporting from the Texas border. CNN’s Rosa Flores is based in Texas and has reported from the region.
“We’ve covered stories on the Mexican side of the border where thousands of migrants have been waiting for Title 42 to lift,” she told me in an email. “The anxiety and angst have been building on the border for years now.”
The uncertainty about US policy has only amplified the desperation of people trying to get into the US, Flores told me.
“The net effect of the US immigration policy has been very dangerous for migrants/asylum-seekers,” she told me. “Thousands of them have been kidnapped, sexually assaulted or violently attacked, according to Human Rights First.”
‘PR stunt’. Even hard-line immigration activists, like the former Trump Department of Homeland Security official Ken Cuccinelli, who has pushed for this “invasion” declaration, called Abbott’s version of invoking the invasion clause inadequate since Abbott will not, apparently, be seizing federal authority to expel migrants from the country.
It does, however, fit along with Abbott’s efforts to bus migrants out of Texas to cities like New York and Washington.
“Saying you’re being invaded but not blocking the invaders from coming is a hollow shell,” Cuccinelli said, along with Russ Vought, president of the activist group Citizens for Renewing America. They dismissed Abbott’s move as a “PR stunt.”
No obvious change. Flores pointed out it does not appear that Abbott’s declaration has changed the stance of the Texas Military Department nor its rules of engagement on the border. Abbott’s budget director said the announcement does not reflect a change in overall tactics.
Back in February, CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez traveled to the border and talked to National Guard members taking part in Abbott’s previous deployment of state forces to the border. She found some who said the mission was a waste of time and resources, since the power to enforce immigration policy and border security is held by the federal government.
Not what the founders intended. Any more on the invasion clause from Abbott would be “flagrantly unconstitutional,” according to Joseph Nunn of the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice, who pointed out Texas is not being invaded by an army.
“The Founders foresaw such invasions being launched by ‘ambitious or vindictive’ foreign powers and groups, not unarmed migrants and asylum-seekers,” Nunn said in a Twitter thread.