What happened at US border and why it threatens assistance for Ukraine

Tuesday, 30 January 2024

The American city of Eagle Pass, located in the Republican state of Texas right on the border with Mexico, has become the epicenter of a direct conflict between the Texas and the federal governments.

The conflict, as indicated by geography, revolves around migration and, more specifically, the authority to regulate it.

Read more in the article by Oleh Pavliuk, a journalist of European Pravda: Texas increases problems for Ukraine: How border conflict created rumours of US collapse.

The story begins back in 2021 when Texas Gouverneur Greg Abbott declares Operation Lone Star to combat illegal migration.

The operation was about sending National Guard troops and local Department of Homeland Security (equivalent to the Ministry of Internal Affairs) personnel to the border, install barriers, and create a separate system of authorities to address migrant deportation issues.

Since combating illegal migration is a prerogative of the federal government, Texas decided to bypass this limitation by detaining migrants on charges of less serious crimes, such as trespassing on private property.

Abbott's initiative is not something new for Texas. His predecessor, Republican Rick Perry, had declared similar operations multiple times to protect against migration, framing them as the federal government's inability to secure the border.

What sets Lone Star apart is its scale.

Firstly, it is allocated not millions, but billions of dollars for its implementation. Secondly, unlike his predecessor, the governeur ultimately engaged in a direct conflict with the federal government, allowing state security forces to independently arrest and deport migrants for the mere fact of illegal migration.

The current conflict between Texas and the White House is about a specific violation of federal law by the state.

As part of Lone Star, Texas law enforcement deployed barbed wire at the border. The problem is that these barriers hinder not only migrants but also border patrol agents who are legally obligated to detain illegal immigrants (and, if necessary, provide them with emergency assistance).

As Texas law enforcement refused to allow federal border patrol agents to the border, the latter were repeatedly forced to cut the wire.

Ultimately, the Biden administration won the case in the US Supreme Court against the Texas government, demanding permission for border patrol agents to cut the wire in Eagle Pass to perform their duties. Gouverneur Abbott, however, published an angry and vague statement, indicating that he does not intend to comply: "The federal government has broken the compact between the United States and the States."

He was supported by governeurs of 25 other Republican states.

After this, we heard myths about a "civil war in the US" and "Texas secession." But there is no legal mechanism for states to exit the United States.

Nevertheless, the conflict between Texas and the White House intensified just as the US presidential campaign is gaining momentum – precisely when optimistic signals about an agreement on immigration reform, which also depends on additional funding for Ukraine, became more frequent in Congress.

Even Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who is fairly pro-Ukraine in his stance, is not guided by publicly declared willingness to help Ukraine but by the position of popular Trump, without whose support, McConnell would find it difficult to get re-elected. Trump himself finds it advantageous to speculate on migration.

This, of course, does not mean that aid to Ukraine in the US Congress cannot be passed.

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