Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.
A razor-wire-thin margin divides conservative and liberal states as they take sides in Texas’ battle with the federal government over the southern border. It has the hallmarks of a civil war.
Instead of slavery, the inflammatory dispute is over illegal immigration. And the weaponry is multi-barrel politics, from both sides.
The battle-deciding issue is a blocking tactic used by Texas to keep migrants from crossing its southern border. The tactics include installing razor wire at heavily trafficked points.
Texas is simply responding to the federal government’s refusal to seal the southern border. An estimated 10,000 migrants enter the U.S. each day. Therefore, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is boldly acting for his tough-minded state.
Nationally, the battle lines are delineated by Republican and Democrat governors. Twenty-five Republican governors are supporting Texas in its fight, including Florida’s Ron DeSantis. The only Republican governor not backing Texas is Phil Scott of Vermont.
Now the U.S. Supreme Court has interceded. By a surprising 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the federal government, authorizing U.S. border agents to remove the razor wire. Conservative Amy Coney Barrett sided with liberal justices.
The court said the federal government has the sole authority to protect the nation’s border. Not individual states like Texas. In recent weeks, the standoff has erupted around the pivotal Eagle Pass section of the border.
However, Texas might not listen to the Supremes. Abbott has vowed to restore the razor wire if federal border agents cut it or remove it. So a line is drawn in the remote sand.
Texas has also employed National Guard troops along its 1,200-mile border with Mexico. In addition, the proud state has installed 70,000 rolls of razor wire.
Abbott defended his actions last week in a resolute written statement. “President Biden has violated his oath to faithfully execute immigration laws enacted by Congress,” Abbott wrote. “Instead of prosecuting immigrants for the federal crime of illegal entry, President Biden has sent his lawyers into federal courts to sue Texas for taking action to secure the border.”
In response, the Republican governors jointly pledged their support for Texas. The states vow to use “every tool and strategy, including razor wire fences, to secure the border.”
In addition, the governors stated: “Instead of upholding the rule of law and securing the border, the Biden Administration has attacked and sued Texas for stepping up to protect American citizens from historic levels of illegal immigrants, deadly drugs like fentanyl, and terrorists entering our country.”
Abbott is determined and razor-focused. He has appointed an Air Force general to lead the Texas National Guard and the Texas State Guard. The general, Thomas Suelzer, has said his troops will not permit federal agents to work in areas they are guarding.
Just last week, the Texas National Guard blocked federal border agents from accessing areas around Eagle Pass. Texas troops vowed to “hold the line” to control the area.
Former president and resident border hawk Donald Trump has entered the fray. Trump is urging “all willing states” to send their National Guard troops to help Texas. Some states have already committed troops, while DeSantis says he is open to it.
“All Americans should support the commonsense measures by Texas authorities to protect the safety, security, and sovereignty of Texas, and of the American people.” Trump said.
It might take a Battle of the Alamo moment to resolve this impasse. You can feel the tension – and cut it with a razor.
Steve Nicklas is the managing partner of Nicklas Wealth Management in Fernandina Beach. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns also regularly appear in weekly newspapers in Northeast Florida and in Southeast Georgia, and on his website at www.SteveNicklasMarketplace.com. He has published a book, “All About Money,” of his favorite columns from the past 20 years. The book is available on Amazon. He has also done financial reports for area radio stations and for National Public Radio in Jacksonville. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 904-753-0236.