Texas doesn’t rule the border

Gov. Greg Abbott must obey federal law



January 24, 2024 - 2:44 PM

A National Guard soldier stands guard on the banks of the Rio Grande river at Shelby Park on Jan. 12, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images/TNS)

In a short order issued Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to overturn an injunction that had prevented Customs and Border Protection from removing concertina wire set by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as part of his long-running effort to build a parallel border enforcement infrastructure. That’s good news.

The order comes in response to an emergency motion, so it doesn’t feature the lengthy legal reasoning that is typical of full decisions. We’re left to speculate as to the majority’s reasoning, though it’s not difficult to imagine. The court more than a century ago clarified that regulating immigration is the province of the federal government, reasoning quite sensibly that it would be chaos if every state tried to enact its own policies and restrictions.

In the time since, Congress has been the entity writing immigration laws and the president the one enforcing them, during more restrictive periods and less. Conservatives seemed to understand this principle well enough during the years that Donald Trump made it his mission to reformulate the immigration system around his hyper-restrictive goals and when they complain, falsely, that local sanctuary ordinances are some sort of interference in federal authorities.