American government functions best when each level of government (federal, state, county, local) stays in its own lane and its own jurisdiction.
That becomes problematic, however, when the federal government either grabs too much power or cedes its power to control the border without allowing a state government to fill the void.
A current case in point is the controversy over Operation Lone Star, launched by Texas when it became obvious the Biden administration wasn’t going to control the border.
The state of Texas had to move to fill the void. So it began running its own border control policy, even arresting illegal aliens for trespassing (which they are, of course).
Now a judge says, no, Texas can’t do that, it’s unconstitutional.
The Austin American-Statesman reported on this ruling in an article that begins thusly:
Gov. Greg Abbott’s border enforcement effort violates the U.S. Constitution, a Travis County state district judge on Thursday [January 13] ruled, threatening Operation Lone Star’s future and opening the gates to a flood of court challenges.
Travis County state District Judge Jan Soifer’s ruling came in a legal challenge to the detention of a man from Ecuador who is seeking asylum.
The Ecuadorian was arrested on September 17 on the border in Kinney County, was later released on bond, and is, of course, still in Texas.
The Ecuadorian’s lawyer argued Operation Lone Star violates the supremacy clause of the Constitution [Article VI, Clause 2], and that states are not allowed to “obstruct or discriminate” by enforcing federal law.
Even when the federal government fails to enforce them?
“[The Ecuadorian’s] lawyers say he is among thousands of migrants arrested as part of Abbott’s effort to combat illegal border crossings.”
According to Kristin Etter, this ruling “sets a clear pathway for everybody arrested under Operation Lone Star to challenge their arrests.”
Who is Kristin Etter? Well, she’s the “special project director” of an outfit called Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which is representing approximately 800 defendants who were arrested in Operation Lone Star.
She wants a ‘get out of jail free card’ for all of them.
In response on January 14, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted, “Lib Austin judge lets a Soros Travis County DA represent State of TX, then declares Op Lone Star unconstitutional. Ridiculous. Biden has FAILED to secure the border. Texas stepped in. We have the right to defend our border if the feds refuse. I’ll fight this nonsense on appeal.”
Lib Austin judge lets a Soros Travis County DA represent State of TX, then declares Op Lone Star unconstitutional. Ridiculous.
Biden has FAILED to secure the border. Texas stepped in. We have the right to defend our border if the feds refuse.
I’ll fight this nonsense on appeal. https://t.co/JntGgLNrNB
— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) January 14, 2022
It’s all well and good to say that immigration is a federal responsibility and not a state one. That’s how it should work.
But currently, the federal government (Biden administration) is not discharging its duty to control the border. So, the state of Texas had to step in.
And if you want to get constitutional about it, consider what is stipulated in Article IV, Section 4, which reads:
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
Notice that part about “protect each of them [states] against Invasion”.
Currently the federal government is NOT protecting the state of Texas from invasion, so AG Paxton could argue that drastic times call for drastic measures.
The constitutional relationship between the federal government and Texas (or any other state) can’t be a one-way street.