47 Members of Congress Go to Bat for Texas’s Border Law

Press Releases

February 14, 2024

Show state’s war on the cartels should be free from judicial meddling

WASHINGTON—Last evening, on behalf of Congressman Jodey Arrington of the 19th District of Texas and forty-six other members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas and seventeen other states, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas opposing the Biden Administration’s and activists’ attempts to strike down Texas’s new law protecting its border. The consolidated cases put front and center a constitutional provision that allows states to go to war if they have been invaded.

A state of war exists in Texas. The enemy are Mexican cartels that control the Mexican side of the border and run massive numbers of foreign nationals from around the world, and massive quantities of drugs and other contraband, into Texas and other states. Governor Greg Abbott declared the war under Section 10 of Article I of the U.S. Constitution, which states that, “without the Consent of Congress,” states may not “engage in War” unless they have been “actually invaded.” Steps Abbott has taken to wage this war to date include placing floating barriers in the Rio Grande to block invaders, and people who fund the cartels, from entering the state.

Another measure in this war is SB4, a new Texas law that allows state troops to apprehend illegal border crossers and take them to the border. These border crossers fund the cartels by paying them to traffic them into the country, and their massive numbers allow the cartels to operate undetected.

In response, the Biden Administration, and also an anti-borders activist group represented by the ACLU, went to court to block the law, claiming it is preempted by federal law under a Supreme Court precedent. As IRLI’s brief for the House members shows, however, no one brought up states’ war powers in that Supreme Court case, and the Court’s ruling does nothing to restrict them.

IRLI goes on to show that, given these powers, the questions of whether Texas has validly declared war and whether its chosen means of waging war are appropriate are both nonjusticiable political questions, meaning they should not be decided by courts, but by the political branches of state government. Then IRLI shows that Texas’s valid exercise of its power of self-defense, which flows directly from the Constitution, overrides any conflicting federal laws for the duration of the conflict.

“This provision of the Constitution, and its clear implications, may surprise some people,” said Christopher Hajec, director of litigation of IRLI, “but it has been there all along, and for a very important—if seldom operative—reason. When the federal government does nothing to stop an invasion of states from abroad, the states aren’t forced to accept it. They can repel the invaders themselves. The people of the states made sure this commonsense safeguard was included in the Constitution.”

“War should not be decided in courtrooms, and the Constitution gives states direct power to declare and make war if invaded,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “In this unprecedented situation arising from the federal government’s abdication of its duty to protect states, the judiciary is not the appropriate branch to second-guess how a state may protect itself. We hope the court rules these lawsuits non-justiciable and orders them dismissed on that basis, leaving Texas free to turn back an invasion the federal government has not only not opposed, but actually invited.”

The cases are United States v. Texas, No. 1:24-cv-00008, and Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center v. McGraw, No. 1:23-cv-01537 (W.D. Tex.).

Get Connected

Sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date with immigration reform in the United States.

Attorneys United for a Secure America (AUSA) is a non-partisan affiliation of talented attorneys dedicated to pursuing cases that serve the national interest when it comes to immigration law.

If you are interested in joining the network, visit the AUSA website.