Texas defies the Supreme Court: escalating border tensions and the illusion of independence
For context, a record number of arrests - above 300,000 - were reported in December 2023 on the southern border of the United States. In January, the situation improved, but border services continue to warn that the number of migrants is exceeding their capacity. States grappling with the massive influx of foreigners include Arizona and Florida. However, Texas is the most impacted.
The clash between the Republican administration of Texas, where Donald Trump hails from, and the federal administration, is escalating. Texas Governor Greg Abbott established razor wire on the bank of the Rio Grande river, which resembles barbed wire, but is lined with razor-like blades instead of barbs.
Abbott additionally dispatched National Guard soldiers to the border, obstructing federal CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officers' access to the border. Despite the Supreme Court of the United States permitting services to remove the wire, Texas authorities disregarded this decision. Nearly all Republican governors and top party politicians supported their actions.
The magnitude of the current migration crisis
Andrzej Kohut, an Americanist and a specialist at the Center for Eastern Studies, discusses the undoubtable prominence of migration in the upcoming elections during a conversation with Wirtualna Polska. He recalls that Donald Trump proposed radical solutions to curb illegal migration during his victorious 2016 campaign, most notably, the construction of a wall.
Kohut underscores that compared to 2016, "the present problem with the influx of illegal migrants is significantly larger." He adds, "The current migratory crisis surpasses even the challenging period of the early 2000s," when the migrant influx from Mexico due to drug wars posed a substantial problem for America.
Commenting on the current state of affairs, he says that the scale is larger now, impacting not just border states like Texas and Arizona, but also major American cities that house many migrants awaiting the processing of their asylum applications. Kohut notes that this creates additional problems, including large expenses, anxieties among voters, city dwellers and fuels the implications of Democratic politicians to Joe Biden's policies.
The potential fuel for mobilizing voters
The Wirtualna Polska's speaker highlights the Republicans' awareness of voters' negative perceptions of Biden's immigration policies and states, "Recent polls from the end of 2023 indicate that voters trust Donald Trump more on the immigration issue than the incumbent president."
Kohut evaluates that escalating tensions surrounding border issues and preventing the swift resolution of the crisis, aligns with the Republicans' political agenda. He believes that this has the potential to mobilize voters and attract those who are still undecided due to fears of chaos spilling into American cities, assuming that the Republicans would capitalize on this situation.
Weaving into his commentary the fact that the massive migration issue isn't fake news, Kohut suggests that the American asylum system, grappling with efficiency issues for many years, seems ill-prepared for the surging numbers. He criticizes the lack of a practical solution, despite the Biden administration's initial promise for a humanitarian shift in policy and retention of some of Trump's measures.
A recurring myth: Texas seeking independence
The Speaker at Wirtualna Polska also addresses the circulating misinformation that Texas attempts to seek independence from the United States, a myth associated with Texas joining the Union in the early 19th century.
As per this belief, "Texas agreed to join the Union under certain conditions" and could secede if those conditions weren't met. However, a negative ruling by the Supreme Court in the Texas vs White case in 1869, stated that Texas could only separate via an illegal rebellion or with the consensus of all other states - seemingly highly improbable.
Kohut mentions an ongoing discussion about this matter, as belief in this possibility persists among Texans.
Russia aims to destabilize the U.S
The American Institute of War Studies (ISW) asserts that Russia is attempting to destabilize the American internal predicament. Hence, the Russian information space is filled with material on the conflict between Texas authorities and the federal administration.
Additionally, an influential blogger affiliated with the Kremlin is reported by ISW to be casting doubts on the legality of the impending U.S. elections. The objective is clear - to manipulate the U.S.'s internal political events and incite instability in support of Ukraine's ongoing battle against Russia.
Since 2016, Kohut notes that Russia has been attempting to influence the U.S. election results, inciting political and social scandals in America. He states that though Russia continually engages with this strategy, American individuals are increasingly aware of these attempts.