“Abbott has Biden over a barrel here,” US podcast host Matt Walsh said on Wednesday. “What is Biden going to do, send the military in to forcibly open the border, in an election year? I’m sure he’d like to, and would if he could get away with it, but it would turn the vast majority of the country against him.”
No decisions have been made on whether to federalize the Texas National Guard, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Thursday. “We talked about this the other day,” he said. “I don’t have any decisions to speak to for the president. I don’t have anything on that.”
Former congressman Beto O’Rourke, a Texas Democrat, likened the feud to when Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus deployed National Guard troops to prevent nine black students from entering Little Rock’s Central High School following a 1957 Supreme Court order on racial desegregation. US President Dwight Eisenhower ordered the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock to ensure that black students were allowed to attend the previously all-white school, as ordered by the court.
“Biden must follow this example of bold, decisive leadership to end this crisis before it gets worse,” said O’Rourke, who lost the 2022 gubernatorial election to Abbott.
The Arkansas desegregation battle is perhaps the best and most recent historic precedent for a state trying to defy Washington’s authority in a matter of federal jurisdiction. Previous cases included an effort by Kentucky to nullify a 1798 federal law that enabled the government to deport aliens deemed a threat to national security. South Carolina passed a state law in 1832 trying to nullify federal tariffs that were disproportionately burdensome to southern states.
The states lost those battles. In the South Carolina case, US President Andrew Jackson threatened to send in federal troops if the state refused to comply with federal law. “Disunion by armed force is treason,” he wrote. “Are you really ready to incur its guilt?” A compromise was reached a year later, when the federal government tweaked its tariffs and the state repealed its legislation.
The southern states were willing to incur the consequences of armed rebellion in late 1860 and early 1861, when they seceded from the Union over “irreconcilable differences,” especially slavery. The resulting Civil War left about 750,000 Americans dead.
What happens next
Abbott has essentially put the ball in Biden’s court to either assert federal authority by force, drop the issue or seek a compromise. The president is currently trying to negotiate a deal with Republican lawmakers to beef up border security in exchange for approving over $60 billion in new funding for Ukraine’s conflict with Russia.
Presumably, a political compromise with Republicans could help cool tensions between Washington and Texas. Abbott has tried to ramp up pressure on Biden and other Democrats over the border crisis by busing illegal aliens to Democrat-controlled cities. Those efforts have brought the immigration issue home in places such as New York City and Chicago. New York Mayor Eric Adams has warned that the migrant influx “will destroy” his city, and he has criticized Biden for failing to alleviate the crisis.
Republican lawmakers, such as Representatives Chip Roy of Texas and Clay Higgins of Louisiana, have applauded Abbott’s defiance of the federal government. Higgins went so far as to say, “The feds are staging a civil war, and Texas should stand its ground.” Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “If President Biden won’t defend us, states will have to defend themselves. Arkansas stands with Texas.”
As confrontational as those comments may be, Republican politicians have stopped short of calling for secession. Social media users have been less restrained. The hashtag #Texit has trended on X (formerly Twitter) since the Supreme Court ruled against the state on Monday. (RT)
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