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All Eyes on Texas to Wrap Busy Week on Immigration

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Washington, DC — Immigration and border issues have been front and center in the news recently, especially an array of developments and events in Texas yesterday. Below find our take on three key developments – our read on the importance of the preliminary injunction against Texas’s SB4 and its dangerous reliance on “invasion” claims, and our assessment on the dueling border visits of Donald Trump and Joe Biden and the related implications.

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“Yesterday in Texas helped to crystalize the stakes and months ahead on immigration. The dueling border visits of President Biden and Donald Trump not only offered a contrast on policy and politics, but offered a reminder of how unhinged and racist Trump’s campaign has become. The former President wants to use strategic racism in his pursuit of power, including advancing the narrative that immigrants are threats and ‘invaders’ and that immigration is the result of a conspiracy – ‘a military operation’ – by the enemies of the United States. Thankfully, the ruling issued by Federal Judge David Ezra demolishing the Texas ‘invasion’ legal theory serves as a counterpoint, because while political rhetoric from Trump is usually based on lies, facts are stubborn in a court of law. The ruling adds considerable pushback against the dangerous right-wing narratives that seek to divide us and stoke fears instead of bringing us together to solve problems.” 

Below are AV’s takes on the Texas legal ruling and the visits of Trump and President Biden to the border:

  • U.S. District Judge David Ezra issues key opinion demolishing Texas’s dangerous reliance on “invasion” clause: Yesterday, Judge David Ezra of Austin, Texas issued a preliminary injunction against Texas’s SB4 law. In the ruling, Judge Ezra demolished the radical “invasion” theory Texas is relying on, noting: “Surges in immigration do not constitute an ‘invasion’ … to allow TX to permanently supersede federal directives on the basis of an invasion would amount to nullification of federal law & authority—a notion that is antithetical to the Constitution.” It would do “irreparable harm” to federal supremacy on international and immigration-related matters. The judge also detailed why the radical nature of, “Texas’s ‘invasion’ defense” would “make a stay particularly inappropriate here, as Texas has invoked a clause that would authorize the state to engage in war on Latin American immigrants arriving from Mexico.” 
  • Donald Trump continues to deploy racist arguments to stoke divides, tout lies about immigrants and crime, and exploit terrible tragedies. All in pursuit of political power: Yesterday, we highlighted how the Trump campaign was relying on “strategic racism; a well-worn tactic from a familiar playbook with the sole purpose of turning” the heinous killing of Laken Riley in Georgia into “fodder for a political objective and narrative that migrants and asylum seekers are dangerous threats.” Unsurprisingly, Trump was busy underscoring the point yesterday, along with reliance on the notion of immigrants set to do us harm as invaders. Trump said, for example, “It’s a military operation,” referring to migrants along the border; said “the migrants ‘look like warriors to me,’ and highlighted the killing in Georgia as part of a larger effort to stoke fear about migrant crime (a storyline debunked by studies and fact checks, including here, here and here).
  • President Biden and the politics of immigration. Some good, some missed opportunities to broaden focus to a “both/and” approach: During his remarks yesterday and the barrage of messaging shared by the White House and allies, we think President Biden got it right on two fronts – leaning into the issue rather than ignoring it and calling out Republicans’ gamesmanship, duplicity, extremism and preference for politics over solutions. Yet, we think the President missed an opportunity on the third component of our advice – to embrace a balanced, “both/and” approach that both addresses an orderly and secure border and broadens the focus to such popular ideas as citizenship for Dreamers and support for legal immigration. As we described in detail in a polling and public opinion summary released this week, the American public is broadly supportive of this type of balanced approach rather than an enforcement-only focus.