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Texas Counties to Declare Invasion at Southern Border

People use a ladder to scale the border fence at the US/Mexico border in Tecate, Mexico, Thursday, April 21, 2022. The men used the ropes to lower themselves down on the United States side. Denis Poroy | AP
People use a ladder to scale the border fence at the US/Mexico border in Tecate, Mexico, Thursday, April 21, 2022. The men used the ropes to lower themselves down on the United States side. Denis Poroy | AP

Judges from multiple Texas counties are planning to announce they’re issuing declarations of an invasion beginning on Tuesday in response to unprecedented challenges they’re experiencing as a result of escalated illegal immigration under the Biden administration.

County officials will make the announcement at a 3 p.m. news conference held at the Kinney County Civic Center in Brackettville, Texas. The event is not open to the public.

Leading the judges is Kinney County Judge Tully Shahan, who was the first judge to issue a disaster declaration last year over the negative impacts of illegal immigration on his county, prompting other judges to also issue similar declarations. Gov. Greg Abbott later issued a disaster declaration for multiple counties as well.

Kinney County Attorney Brent Smith also has requested that the governor and Attorney General Ken Paxton take steps to act under Article 1 of the Constitution, as have conservative leaders in the state.

Their announcement Tuesday comes after Abbott has taken measures to thwart criminal activity at the border through Operation Lone Star. Since OLS launched last March, state and local law enforcement efforts, working with U.S. Border Patrol, have helped apprehend more than 270,400 illegal immigrants and made more than 16,700 criminal arrests, with more than 14,000 felony charges reported, the governor’s office says. More than 5,600 weapons and $42.8 million in currency have also been seized, and more than 22,700 people attempting to enter Texas illegally have been turned back to Mexico, his office says.

“Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps left by the Biden Administration's refusal to secure the border,” Abbott said last week of OLS accomplishments. “Every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and the nation due to President Biden's open border policies.”

But counties are calling on him to do more: to declare an invasion and “act under the constitutional authority granted unto him under Article 4, Section 7 of the Texas Constitution and Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution and immediately prevent and/or remove all persons invading the sovereignty of Texas and that of the United States.”

“We are taking unprecedented steps with the hope of encouraging Gov. Greg Abbott to acknowledge the existence of an invasion on our border with Mexico and take necessary actions to preserve and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Texas,” Shahan and Smith said in a news release.

The statement also highlights examples of crime that county officials are grappling with.

Last week, armed smugglers pursued by Texas state troopers fired shots into oncoming traffic at civilians, hoping to end the pursuit. No one was injured, they note, but residents could have been killed. In the same week, three foreign nationals involved in a human smuggling operation also were killed after crashing their vehicle.

Last month, law enforcement efforts prevented over 67 smuggling attempts in Kinney County. In May, more than 4,000 “gotaways” were documented evading law enforcement in the county “whose whereabouts are currently unknown,” according to the announcement.

Smith told The Center Square, “Gov. Abbott recently acknowledged the fact that unprecedented times require unprecedented action from both state and local governments in order to protect our citizens. As such, several border counties have taken unprecedented action and declared an invasion on our border with Mexico. This coalition of counties support Gov. Abbott’s efforts and request he stand alongside us and declare an invasion and swiftly act to protect Texas.”

Goliad County Judge Mike Bennet, also scheduled to attend, was among the first to declare a disaster declaration last year. Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd, also attending, has been aggressively pursuing cartel-related trafficking activity coming from the border.

While not physically located at the Texas-Mexico border, Boyd argues they’re feeling the effects of open border policies 200 miles north of it. And Goliad, as it did during the Texas Revolution, has an important role to play in defending Texas now, he argues.

“From the time of Texas independence from Mexico until today, Texas has played a key part in American growth and exceptionalism,” Boyd told The Center Square. “The rugged individualist mentality of Texans is what spurs us to take matters into our own hands instead of huddling in the protective shadow of the government waiting for answers and permission that may never come.

“This spirit of independence, along with our sense of duty to our fellow man, is what drives counties such as ours to take bold steps at times like this,” he added. “We are compelled to act within the constitutional limits set by our forefathers in order to preserve the way of life they envisioned and we enjoy.

“We act today, in the face of government complicity, in order to try to ensure that our children and grandchildren are free citizens in the decades to come,” he said. “The Texans at San Jacinto rallied at the cry of ‘Remember Goliad. Remember the Alamo.’ And they were victorious. If we win this war against our freedoms, we will have to add, ‘Remember Kinney County,’ because they have stepped into the void of leadership and stood up for Texas and America when few others were willing.”

Also attending are Uvalde County Judge Bill Mitchell, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, Brackettville City Mayor Eric Martinez, Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe, and other city and county officials. Congressman Chip Roy, R-Texas, and former Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli, are expected to give remarks.

Matt Benacci, a public information officer with the sheriff’s office who helped organize the event, told The Center Square, "It needs to be stressed that this is not a political rally. This is a gathering of concerned Texas County Judges and others, doing their very best to take concrete steps for the safety of their constituents, and the State of Texas as a whole."

Neither Abbott’s nor Paxton’s office have responded to requests for comment.

Russ Vought and Ken Cuccinelli with the Center for Renewing America issued a joint statement praising the county judges and sheriffs.

"While our southern border is faced with historic devastation, today, it is met with historic leadership," they wrote. "For the first time in U.S. history, several counties in Texas, outside of Congress, have declared an invasion – a constitutional solution we have been advocating for over a year.

"While it's unfortunate the Biden Administration has aided and abetted the destruction at the border and put Americans last on the world stage, we're proud to stand with the history-making county judges, sheriffs and attorneys who didn't rely on the federal government, or even the governor, to protect their families, ranches and communities."

Vought and Cuccinelli also called on Abbott to follow the county leaders' lead.

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