Congressional debate on how to deal with what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Congressional representatives are calling an “invasion” of foreign migrants at the Texas-Mexican border is becoming increasingly irrational, bordering on dangerous. The danger stems from the fact that the increasingly heated debate dredges up images and arguments from the Confederacy—secession and “states’ rights”—without ever addressing the real causes of this crisis.
One example, as reported by The Hill, was yesterday’s hearing by the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government, chaired by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX). Roy argued that Texas should ignore the recent Supreme Court ruling that Texas must take down razor wire and other obstacles it set up at Eagle Pass to keep out migrants coming from Mexico and points south. Migrants are portrayed as subhumans. The Biden administration argued that the razor wire prevented Border Patrol agents from doing their jobs. Texas says it will continue to place obstacles in the way of any incoming migrants, no matter what the Supreme Court says.
The argument here, as espoused by Texas Governor Abbott and by Representative Roy, is that the Supreme Court doesn’t have the right to contravene state laws intended to protect public safety and that the migrant “invasion” threatens Texans’ safety. Roy went so far as to claim, with a flourish of sophistry, that the current situation Texas faces is like the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the slave Dred Scott remained the property of his owner even in states where slavery had been abolished. The slave owner’s personal rights took precedence. Roy asked “was Dred Scott a good opinion that we should follow?”—heavily implying that the current Supreme Court was also siding with slavery. “What amount of death and destruction among the people of Texas or any other state is sufficient to say that the state should take action?”