Vitaly Ryumshin How Biden and Texas divided the border 02/05/2024, 08:03

The Texas crisis is perhaps the main topic of recent weeks. Texas officials have been at odds with Joe Biden over immigration for several years. In mid-January, the conflict reached a whole new level: Texas law enforcement took control of the Mexican border and refused to allow federal agents there.

U.S. Supreme Court rulings and government ultimatums demanding the return of the border failed. Texas refused to comply and warned the federal government that it was prepared to push back with force. Additionally, the conflict began to draw in more and more players like a funnel. And it created the impression that something majestic was happening before our eyes.

Sensing the scent of a new civil war, Americans began to anxiously share videos of unusual movements of military equipment and aircraft. Everyone was getting active on our social networks, too, but mostly they were making jokes like “little green men,” “The People’s Republic of Texas,” and “Texas is ours.” This is understandable: the topic of the collapse of the United States has long been included in the pantheon of domestic memes, and here comes another reason to share new jokes.

But if anyone is already rejoicing, let me quickly disappoint: There will be no “Texas People’s Republic”, at least in the near future. Disputes between states and the federal center regularly play out in American courts. There are also cases where states refuse to implement the Supreme Court’s decision. Moreover, the conflict ended when the stubborn governors were pacified with the help of federal troops. But even then there was no civil war.

Of course, Texas is different. It is the only state in the United States that is part of it as an independent country. Texans still feel like a “state within a state,” and some even believe they have the right to secede from the United States (spoiler: this is not true). However, this fact has no radical effect other than adding color to the current situation.

But it is worth recognizing that the conflict between Texas and Biden is not a completely standard story. It has the hallmarks of an acute constitutional crisis.

In the United States, immigration is the responsibility of the federal center. Texas began to overstep its authority: it arbitrarily seized control of part of the border and, shortly before that, passed a law allowing local authorities to independently deport illegal immigrants. Moreover, Texas violated its chain of command by refusing to comply with government and Supreme Court orders.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is trying to frame the immigration crisis as an “invasion” that gives the state the constitutional right to defend itself. This seems far-fetched, but most people agree with it. In the conflict with the White House, Texas was supported by 25 of the 50 states. Ten states have even pledged to send the National Guard to the southern border to assist Texas law enforcement.

America’s sympathies also seem to be on Texas’ side. A Jan. 29 Rasmussen Reports poll found that nearly 70 percent of Americans support his actions at the border. Only 27% oppose.

In short, the White House is in a difficult situation. From a legal perspective, the situation requires the president to decisively confirm the power of the federal center. But the political conditions aren’t conducive to that: You can’t just impose your will when half the states are defying you and voters think they’re right. There are big risks here that the cautious Biden is unlikely to take.

Most likely, the confrontation will continue in the courts. Fortunately, Washington has made enough of a case against Texas. But there is a risk here, too: Trials can be long and painful, during which time justice for Texas may not actually be achieved. It turns out it’s not a very good picture.

But the alternative is not very attractive either. If Washington lets Texas get away with its disobedience and accepts the “occupation” claim, states can legally intervene in federal policy. This would be a serious step towards the centralization of power in the United States. The prerequisites for reversal existed before, but after Texas, individual states’ attempts to pull the mantle of authority over themselves may turn into a steady trend.

But no matter how it all ends, election problems for Biden are guaranteed. No one has any doubt that he is responsible for the crisis. Biden has significantly relaxed immigration policies in 2021. Then, as the flow of illegal immigrants at the southern border broke records, the White House long ignored the problem or tried to solve it with half-measures.

Meanwhile, the US presidential elections are less than a year away. Biden’s opponents will not miss the opportunity to use the “Texas card”. In principle, they are already doing better: It is no coincidence that the states governed by the Republican Party oppose Biden. In addition, congressional Republicans are literally twisting the president’s arm by refusing to fund Ukraine without tightening immigration laws as much as possible. So will this be enough to topple Biden? We will see soon.

The author expresses his personal opinion, which may not coincide with the position of the editors.

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Source: Gazeta

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