By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – Forty Texas counties have now declared an invasion at the southern U.S. border with Mexico, or have expressed support for Texas declaring an invasion. More are in the process of doing so, according to sources who’ve spoken to The Center Square.
The most recent to join the invasion call include the judges and commissioners of Collin, Fannin, Leon, Navarro, Shackelford, Somervell and Waller counties.
They are calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to formally declare an invasion and repel it, which he has yet to do. The governor cited the invasion clauses of the Texas Constitution and U.S. Constitution in a Nov. 14 letter to county judges and in a Nov. 16 letter to President Joe Biden. He also wrote letters to the heads of the Texas Military Department and Department of Public Safety.
In his letter to judges, Gov. Abbott refers to a July 7 executive order he issued two days after the judges of Kinney, Goliad and Terrell first declared an invasion. The executive order doesn’t declare an invasion, it authorizes Texas law enforcement officers to apprehend illegal foreign nationals and return them to ports of entry. After Gov. Abbott tweeted content from part of the letter to judges without providing context, many misreported that he declared an invasion.
As a Trinity University professor explained to KSAT News, “You can’t declare the invasion via Twitter. There is a process to name it, to give a date to it, to put it out in kind of a public way.”
Neither Gov. Abbott’s July 7 executive order nor his letter to the president declare an invasion; no signed and dated formal invasion declaration exists on the governor’s website.
The Republican Party of Texas and judges have called on Gov. Abbott to repel the invasion by preventing entry of illegal foreign nationals and returning those who do enter illegally to Mexico. While Gov. Abbott’s November letters use the word “repel,” Texas law enforcement officers working through Operation Lone Star haven’t prevented entry of thousands of people illegally entering Texas every day or returned them to Mexico. Currently, they are continuing standard operating procedure of turning over illegal foreign nationals they apprehend to U.S. Border Patrol agents.
As a result of Gov. Abbott’s directives, law enforcement officers working through OLS have apprehended more than 328,000 illegal foreign nationals, made over 22,100 criminal arrests with over 19,600 felony charges reported, as of Dec. 1. Texas has also bused more than 14,000 people who illegally entered Texas to four so-called sanctuary cities, according to state data.
Prior to Gov. Abbott’s November letters, judges and commissioners in Collin, Fannin and Leon counties signed resolutions in September recognizing “an invasion against the state of Texas.” They called on the state “to take all steps necessary and allowable under the U.S. and Texas constitutions” to secure the border and “repel the invasion at our border.” They also called “for additional measures to secure the border, stop the invasion at the border, and protect our communities,” citing cartel-driven human and drug trafficking that’s created “a security threat and humanitarian disaster with overwhelming consequences” to Texans.
In October, Navarro, Shackelford and Somervell counties took action.
Navarro County’s resolution expresses “support for the governor to take necessary action to stop chaos on our border,” stating “the health, safety, and welfare of Texas residents are under an imminent threat from unprecedented levels of illegal immigration, human trafficking, and drug smuggling coming across the U.S. border from Mexico.”
Shackelford County Judge Robert Skelton signed a disaster declaration similar to one signed by Lavaca County’s judge. Notably, it states that the rural county located roughly two hours west of Ft. Worth is under invasion. The border crisis, the judge said, has created a “security threat and humanitarian disaster with overwhelming consequences to the residents of Shackelford County and Texans.”
He also sent a copy of his declaration to Gov. Abbott, his assistant told The Center Square. The declaration requests Gov. Abbott to “declare the existence of an invasion on its border with Mexico and take necessary action to preserve and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Texas.”
The commissioners of the rural county of Somervell, located roughly an hour southwest of Fort Worth, also passed a resolution to secure the border. Judge Danny Chambers, who signed it, said they did so because “it was the right thing to do. Northern counties are impacted too,” he told The Center Square. “Every county is.”
The resolution refers to Mexican cartels as “paramilitary, narco-terrorist organizations that profit from trafficking people and drugs” into the U.S., refers to the border crisis as a “security threat and humanitarian disaster,” expresses support for “border counties under invasion,” supports OLS efforts and requests Gov. Abbott “to secure the Texas border and repel the invasion at the border.”
Roughly one week after Gov. Abbott sent his November letters, Waller County was the first to pass a resolution calling on him to secure the border. Notably, the county was the first to refer to the cartels as having “command and control over irregular warfare operations into the United States, exploiting unsecure borders to solidify their power structure with billions of dollars in profit, using migrant warfare to obfuscate the trafficking of drugs and people by utilization of irregular techniques, tactics and procedures.”
The county also points to Gov. Abbott designating the cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, formally acknowledging “that non-state actors are conducting irregular warfare operations and breaching the sovereignty and national security of the United States and furthering Governor Abbott’s formal diplomatic representation to the United States that the State of Texas is not protected against an invasion.”
These seven counties join 33 whose border security resolutions or declarations remain in effect.
Combined, the 40 counties include Atascosa, Burnet, Chambers, Clay, Collin, Ector, Edwards, Ellis, Fannin, Goliad, Hamilton, Hardin, Hood, Hunt, Jack, Jasper, Johnson, Kinney, Lavaca, Leon, Liberty, Live Oak, Madison, McMullen, Montague, Navarro, Orange, Parker, Presidio, Shackelford, Somervell, Terrell, Throckmorton, Tyler, Van Zandt, Waller, Wharton, Wichita, Wilson, and Wise.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin is the only mayor in Texas or the U.S. to declare an invasion.