What happens in border states when the federal government refuses to enforce immigration laws amid a record surge of illegal immigration? Are those states, and the elected officials charged with maintaining law and order in them, supposed to stand back and accept the ensuing chaos in their communities? Or do they have a right, even a duty, to take action and fill the void left by the federal government?
In Texas, where the border crisis that began as soon as President Biden took office is still in full swing, the answer appears to be that in the face of federal inaction, states must act on their own.
That’s the idea behind “Operation Lone Star,” Gov. Greg Abbott’s evolving and expensive plan to secure the U.S.-Mexico border using thousands of state troopers and Texas National Guardsmen. The operation, launched in March, was initially billed by Abbott as an effort to “deny Mexican Cartels and other smugglers the ability to move drugs and people into Texas,” but has since become a sprawling and controversial experiment in the use of state power to secure an international border.
Democrats have denounced it as illegal and unconstitutional, and called for a Justice Department investigation. Republicans have praised Abbott for taking a stand and pushing the envelope.