Governor Abbott ‘can’t declare an invasion on Twitter,’ says political scientist

Governor Abbott calls for expansion of Operation Lone Star

Although there has been a record number of illegal border crossings for weeks now, Governor Greg Abbott posted Wednesday on Twitter that Texas faced “an invasion by Mexican drug cartels and mass illegal immigration.”

However, Juan Sepulveda, J.D., the Calgaard Distinguished Professor of Practice in Political Science at Trinity University, said, “You can’t declare the invasion via Twitter.”

He said, “There is a process to name it, to give a date to it, to put it out in kind of a public way.”

The governor also released a letter he wrote to President Biden, citing a statute about the federal government’s duty to protect against invasion. But by failing to do, Abbott said the states are allowed to protect their own borders.

Sepulveda said the governor is “trying to push as far as he can, a very weak argument from the state constitution and also invoking from the federal constitution the ability for states to be able to claim, if they are being invaded, to be able to kind of take care of themselves.”

Abbott also wrote letters to county judges explaining his reason for declaring an invasion, and to the Texas Department of Safety and the Texas Military Department calling for an expansion of the existing Operation Lone Star to deal with “what amounts to an invasion at the southern border.”

Yet Sepulveda said by echoing much of what was actually included in previous executive orders, Abbott is trying to raise his presidential political profile.

“One way to try to do that nationally is to be provocative in some of the actions that he’s taken, for example, around immigration,” Sepulveda said.

He said Abbott is coming off winning re-election and reacting to former President Donald Trump’s announcement to seek another term, as well as increased attention on another newly-elected governor, Ron DeSantis, another potential Republican presidential nominee.

“We think there is a lot of time until the next election, but the election has already started,” Sepulveda said. “I think a lot of folks would say from a legal perspective, Governor Abbott is testing the waters.”

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About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.