Republicans in the Pennsylvania General Assembly are urging the governor and attorney general to support Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his administration as the federal government spars with the Texas governor over border security – the latest escalation in a growing national dialogue over illegal immigration and securing the southern border.
On Wednesday, more than 40 state representatives in the Pennsylvania House wrote to Gov. Josh Shapiro and Attorney General Michelle Henry, encouraging both to offer “vital support” to Texas, writing that all states have “an obligation to fight this crisis to safeguard our communities and uphold the rule of law.”
On the same day, Republican leaders in the Pennsylvania Senate said they plan to introduce a resolution showing support for Abbott’s immigration policies, while also calling on Shapiro to support the Texas governor. A similar resolution has been floated by GOP state Rep. Mike Cabell, who led the House GOP letter.
More than 40 Republicans in the PA House have signed a letter asking Gov. Josh Shapiro to offer support to Texas amid a standoff with the Biden admin over illegal immigration. pic.twitter.com/7Au7P7R2ho— Justin Sweitzer (@justin_sweitzer) January 31, 2024
The letter from House Republicans asks Shapiro to “send much-needed personnel and resources to combat the historic rise in illegal immigration in Texas,” which mirrors a call made a day earlier from GOP state Sen. Doug Mastriano. Mastriano, in a statement, called for Shapiro to deploy Pennsylvania National Guard troops to Texas to help with Operation Lone Star, Abbott’s initiative to deploy the Texas National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety to the southern border.
“Securing our border is a bipartisan priority,” Mastriano said Tuesday. “I am calling on the governor to deploy National Guard troops and resources to assist with Operation Lone Star.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Scott Martin and Majority Whip Ryan Aument said Wednesday they are partnering on a forthcoming resolution and said in a statement that they have heard from their constituents with concerns about the southern border.
“This resolution reflects our duty to uphold our oath to support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and ensure the safety of its citizens,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “State and local officials across this country have sounded the alarm regarding the straining of their resources, the scourge of fentanyl deaths, the tragedy of human trafficking, including children smuggled across the border, and the flow of illegal firearms and dangerous gang members; all exasperated by the disastrous enforcement at our borders by the Biden Administration.”
According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the number of total southwest land border encounters – which includes encounters with accompanied minors, individuals in a family unit, single adults and unaccompanied children – has been rising since 2021. In 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection had 1,734,686 encounters along the southwest border, a number that increased to 2,378,944 in 2022. In 2023, the agency had 2,475,669 encounters along the border.
The communications to Shapiro and other statewide officials come after a recent order from the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed federal border patrol agents to cut and remove razor wire installed along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border by Texas officials, according to SCOTUSblog.com, a site that covers Supreme Court cases. In the days following the decision, Abbott accused President Joe Biden of failing to enforce the nation’s immigration laws and doubled down on his intention to crack down on illegal immigration in defiance of the high court order.
Two days after the Supreme Court ruling, Texas law enforcement officials continued to roll out a type of razor wire, known as concertina wire, and blocked Border Patrol agents from accessing parts of Shelby Park, a 47-acre park in Eagle Pass, Texas located along the banks of the Rio Grande river, according to The Texas Tribune. Abbott has said Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution gives him the power to protect his state regardless of federal law. “I have already declared an invasion under Article I, § 10, Clause 3 to invoke Texas’s constitutional authority to defend and protect itself,” Abbott said in a statement following the Supreme Court order. “That authority is the supreme law of the land and supersedes any federal statutes to the contrary.”
Abbott’s legal arguments have drawn comparisons to arguments used by secessionists in the lead-up to the Civil War, according to a report from Route Fifty, and some legal experts have already cast doubt on Abbott’s legal reasoning.
Last week, the Republican Governors Association circulated a statement signed by 25 Republican governors stating their support for Abbott’s policies. “We stand in solidarity with our fellow Governor, Greg Abbott, and the State of Texas in utilizing every tool and strategy, including razor wire fences, to secure the border,” the governors wrote.
Manuel Bonder, a spokesperson for Gov. Josh Shapiro, said in an email that Shapiro supports border security and pressed Congress to deliver results on immigration reform.
“Governor Shapiro has been clear that our country needs a secure border and Congress needs to pass comprehensive reform to fix our broken immigration system,” Bonder said. “This issue requires leaders from both parties to step up and deliver real, comprehensive solutions – not the failed talking points and political grandstanding that have brought us decades without immigration reform.”