Speaker Johnson says House ‘will do everything in its power’ to back Texas over border feud

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House Speaker Mike Johnson says the Republican-controlled House “will do everything in its power” to support Texas over its ongoing feud with the Biden administration over border security — after the Lone Star State said it has a “right to self-defense.”

“I stand with Governor Abbott. The House will do everything in its power to back him up,” he said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The next step: holding [DHS] Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas accountable.”

Abbott on Tuesday declared the state has a right to “self-defense” from a migrant “invasion” as it faces significant pushback over its border security policies from the Biden administration.


U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson speaks while standing with Republican members of Congress, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The Supreme Court this week found in the administration’s favor when it granted an emergency appeal to allow agents to keep cutting border wire set up by Texas along the border. Texas this week published images of it strengthening physical barriers along Eagle Pass in response.

There is a separate threat of a lawsuit related to the seizure of Shelby Park along Eagle Pass by Texas authorities. Meanwhile, the administration has sued over the establishment of buoys in the Rio Grande River by Texas, and the recently signed law that allows Texas state and local officials to arrest illegal immigrants. The administration has accused Texas of interfering with federal control over immigration and border security, and has said it is putting agents and migrants in danger.

Abbott, however, cited constitutional language that demands the federal government “protect each [State] against invasion” and the right of states to protect their own borders.

Abbott argues that “the failure of the Biden administration” to fulfill those duties triggers a clause in Article 1 that “reserves to this State the right of self-defense.” He notes he has already declared an “invasion” to invoke the authority, which he calls “the supreme law of the land and supersedes any federal statutes to the contrary.”

The administration has said that the federal government is in control of immigration enforcement and has defended its record — pointing to removals since May that outpaced the entirety of FY 2019. Instead, it says it needs more funding from Congress and comprehensive immigration reform to fix what it says is a “broken” system.


“Whether it is leaving migrants on the side of the road in the dead of winter, installing razor wire to make Border Patrol’s job more dangerous, promoting extreme and unconstitutional laws like S.B. 4, or his latest actions in Eagle Pass, Governor Abbott has repeatedly proven that he is not interested in solutions and only seeks to politicize the border,” a recent White House statement said. 

However, a number of governors have come to Texas’ side, with at least 14 Republican-led states, including Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and Tennessee expressing support for the governor’s position.

Some Democrats, however, have urged tougher action against Texas from the Biden administration.

“Greg Abbott has continued to use political stunts and inflammatory language to advance his own agenda, violating the Constitution and endangering both U.S. citizens and asylum seekers,” Rep. Greg Casar, D-Texas, posted on X. “Abbott is following the Donald Trump playbook: making immigration harder and more dangerous, so asylum seekers are pushed into the hands of cartels and the system remains broken.”

Casar continued with a string of posts, saying he agreed with Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, who on Tuesday tweeted Biden should seize control of the Texas National Guard.


“Governor Greg Abbott is using the Texas National Guard to obstruct and create chaos at the border,” Castro posted to X on Tuesday. “If Abbott is defying yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling, @POTUS needs to establish sole federal control of the Texas National Guard now.”

Meanwhile, there were over 302,000 migrant encounters in December, after a record 2.4 million encounters in FY 23.


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