As VP Harris Punts Border Responsibility, Texas Governor Issues Disaster Declaration

By Robert Law on June 4, 2021

A common saying in football is that, “If you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback.” For those not well-versed in the sport, the quarterback is the most important position so it is essential that the team has a clear-cut leader. If there is an internal controversy over that role, the team is divided and unlikely to succeed.

The same analogy holds true for border czars given the failure of the two that President Biden concurrently tapped to solve the crisis. As my colleague Andrew Arthur discussed in an April 2 post titled, "The Battle of the Biden Border Czars", the Biden administration’s border policy made no sense at the time given the confusion over whether former Ambassador Roberta Jacobson or Vice President Kamala Harris was in charge. Arthur followed that up on April 8 asking, "What Is 'Border Czar' Kamala Harris Doing on the Border Crisis?" The answer: not much, as the border crisis degrades quickly. Nearly three weeks later, Arthur noted Harris’s inaction as border czar and Jacobson’s decision to quit the Biden administration on its 100th day.

Fast forward to today and, to borrow another football term, Harris is still punting on her responsibility to develop a plan to stop the border crisis. In a recent CNN article, Harris aides anonymously insist that the VP is not in charge of the border crisis, but instead was tasked with addressing “root causes” of illegal immigration from Central America. But in the same article, a different anonymous White House aide said that Harris is “regularly briefed” on the border.

Are the president and vice president not on the same page or is Harris attempting to revise the scope of her assignment? My guess is the latter because, as Ronald Mortensen has rightly pointed out, addressing root causes (Harris’s claimed role) is a long-term issue that has no bearing on the current border crisis (Biden’s view of Harris’s role). Not to mention the rampant corruption in the Northern Triangle governments. Though, once the border crisis is solved, David North has already developed a thoughtful plan for how the Biden administration can address “root causes”.

The Biden administration’s failure to control the border has significantly burdened the states, most notably those that share the border with Mexico. At least one border governor, Texas Republican Greg Abbott, is taking steps to mitigate the damage the border crisis is causing to his constituents. On May 31, Governor Abbott issued a disaster declaration certifying that the

ongoing surge of individuals unlawfully crossing the Texas-Mexico border poses an ongoing and imminent threat of widespread and severe damage, property damage, injury, and loss of life and property, including property damage, property crime, human trafficking, violent crime, threats to public health, and a violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Pursuant to his authority under the disaster declaration, Governor Abbott authorized the use of all state and local resources to protect landowners in the border counties from trespassers and property damage, directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to enforce all federal and state criminal laws, and directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to discontinue state licensing of childcare facilities that shelter or detain illegal aliens.

In an accompanying press release, Governor Abbott said that “President Biden’s open-border policies have paved the way for dangerous gangs and cartels, human traffickers, and deadly drugs like fentanyl to pour into our communities.” He continued, “Texas continues to step up to confront the border crisis in the federal government’s absence, but more must be done. ... Working together with local law enforcement, the state will continue to take robust and meaningful action to keep our communities safe.”

While this state action in the face of federal inaction is important to mitigate the direct harm Texans are facing due to the ongoing and worsening border crisis, it is not enough to stop the surge of illegal aliens attempting to cross the border. The governor and his attorney general have additional tools at their disposal, namely the ability to sue the Biden administration in federal court. State officials who want to protect our borders need to blitz (football pun) the Biden administration by every avenue available to compel the federal government to do its job and stop the border crisis.