Last night, former president Donald Trump inserted himself into the showdown between the federal government and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, encouraging states to send troops to the southern border to try to curb illegal immigration.
On Truth Social, Trump pushed for “all willing States to deploy their guards to Texas to prevent the entry of Illegals, and to remove them back across the Border.” In his Truth Social rant, Trump also pledged that, if re-elected, he would “work hand in hand with Governor Abbott” to enact what he called “the Largest Domestic Deportation Operation in History.” (Representatives of Abbott’s office and the Texas Military Department haven’t yet responded to my inquiries about whether they echo Trump’s request for states to send guards to the border or whether they have been in touch with the Trump campaign on the topic.)
“Those Biden has let in should not get comfortable because they will be going home,” Trump wrote.
As I reported earlier this month, Abbott signed a law that would make undocumented immigration into Texas a state crime—and thus allow state law enforcement officials to arrest undocumented immigrants anywhere in the state. In response, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in federal district court arguing that the law violates the Constitution.
In a separate court proceeding with the Supreme Court, the DOJ said that the Texas National Guard had refused Border Patrol’s access to a 2.5-mile-long stretch of the border after three migrants, a woman and two kids, drowned there earlier this month. This week, the Supreme Court issued an order saying that federal agents could cut down razor wire Texas installed along that portion of the border in Border Patrol’s bid to gain access.
One thing Trump and Texas appear to have in common? Neither see themselves as subject to the rule of law, even when it’s handed down from the highest court in the land. The Texas Military Department put out a defiant statement on Tuesday—the day after the Supreme Court order—saying it “continues to hold the line …to deter and prevent unlawful entry.” And CBS News reports that the Biden administration gave Texas until the end of the day today to grant Border Patrol full access to that area. (Spokespeople for the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection also didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.)
Trump’s alignment with Abbott is particularly loaded, since, as I reported earlier this month, the governor recently told a right-wing radio host that the only reason Texas officials weren’t shooting migrants crossing the border was “because, of course, the Biden administration would charge us with murder.” The Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to my questions about whether they endorse Abbott’s comments about shooting migrants or whether, if re-elected, Trump would charge Texas officials with murder for shooting undocumented migrants crossing the border.
But we already know, thanks to a bombshell New York Times report published in November, that Trump is planning an anti-immigraiton “blitz” if re-elected, a legally dubious strategy that would reportedly seek to end birthright citizenship, ban many Muslims, and detain undocumented immigrants in “vast holding facilities” until deportation, as my colleague Dan Friedman outlined.
Trump’s latest comments, plus the reporting we have already seen that provides a glimpse into his plans if re-elected, show that, as my colleague David Corn wrote: if you want to know how bad Trump 2.0 could be, just listen to what he says.
Author: Julianne McShane