Van Zandt County in northeast Texas is the 18th county to declare an invasion at the southern border.
Its county commissioners and Judge Don Kirkpatrick signed a resolution expressing support for Gov. Greg Abbott “to take necessary action to stop the chaos on our border.”
The resolution states that “the health, safety, and welfare of Texas residents are under an imminent threat from the unprecedented levels of illegal immigration, human trafficking, and drug smuggling coming across the U.S. border from Mexico.”
It states that since January 2021, “more than 3.2 million illegal aliens have been apprehended after unlawfully entering the United States, and more than 800,000 illegal aliens have avoided apprehension while unlawfully entering the United States and are unaccounted for in our nation.”
It also points to more than 50 known terrorists who’ve unlawfully entered the U.S. since President Joe Biden’s been in office and the unprecedented number of people and amount of drugs being trafficked into the U.S. as a result of his policies.
According to Aug. 15 U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, more than 80 terrorists on the Terrorist Watchlist have been encountered along the southern border since Biden took office.
During fiscal 2022 through July, 66 individuals on the watchlist were encountered, all non-U.S. citizens, more than fiscal years 2017-2021 combined.
“The sophisticated human trafficking and drug smuggling organizations that facilitate these criminal acts are spearheaded by international drug cartels who, at times, have operational control over the southern border,” the resolution states. “They not only threaten our citizens, but the citizens of various nations from which the trafficked victims originate.”
“The ongoing immigration crisis on the Texas border,” the county commissioners argue, “is not acceptable and may constitute an invasion, having resulted in a security threat and humanitarian disaster with overwhelming consequences to the residents of Texas.”
The commissioners refer to Section 433.005(a) of the Texas Government Code and Article 4, Section 7 of the Texas Constitution and request the “governor of Texas, as Commander-in-chief of the military forces of the State, take all necessary and legal steps to preserve and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Texas.”
They also call on him to “act under the constitutional authority granted to him under Article 4, Section 7 of the Texas Constitution … and Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution … to immediately prevent and/or remove all persons trespassing as well as invading the sovereignty of Texas and that of the United States.”
With their Aug. 31 decision, the judges and county commissioners of Van Zandt joined 17 judges and commissioners who’ve signed resolutions declaring an invasion at the southern border, all citing unprecedented levels of illegal immigration, human trafficking, and drug smuggling occurring in Texas as a result of Biden administration policies.
They represent the counties of Atascosa, Chambers, Edwards, Ellis, Goliad, Hardin, Johnson, Kinney, Liberty, Live Oak, Orange, Parker, Presidio, Terrell, Tyler, Van Zandt, Wilson, and Wise.
While the judges of Jeff Davis and Rockwall County have expressed support for declaring an invasion, their county commissioners haven’t. Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin is the only mayor to declare an invasion.
Abbott has done more than any other governor to secure the border, the judges and county commissioners argue. However, they’re calling on him to use his full authority under the state and U.S. Constitution to do more.
Abbott hasn’t declared an invasion but most recently directed state law enforcement officials to apprehend illegal border crossers and deliver them to ports of entry. He’s also the only Texas governor to build a wall on Texas soil.
Since he launched the state’s border security mission, Operation Lone Star, a multi-agency effort has led to more than 300,800 apprehensions of foreign nationals illegally in Texas, more than 19,400 criminal arrests and more than 16,800 felony charges reported.
Texas DPS has also seized over 335 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill nearly all adults and children in the U.S. These numbers exclude those of federal agencies.
“Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps left by the Biden Administration’s refusal to secure the border,” Abbott said.
“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.”
The Republican Party of Texas has called on Abbott to “to take his commitment to defending our border a step farther, declare an invasion, and direct state officers to deliver illegal aliens back over the border,” Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi said when he announced the party’s own invasion declaration, “to defend the safety and sovereignty of our state.”
Kinney County Attorney Brent Smith, who’s led the movement among the counties, told The Center Square “the significance of other counties also declaring an invasion cannot be overstated.”
Every county is threatened “by the federal government’s abandonment of its constitutional duty,” Smith said, which is why he’s encouraging every county in Texas “to acknowledge the crisis is an invasion.”
There are 254 counties in Texas.
“If Texans don’t save Texas, no one will,” he said.
A version of this article appeared first at The Center Square.
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