Rep. Joaquin Castro calls on Biden to federalize Gov. Abbott’s ‘rogue’ National Guard

Gun Rights

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D – San Antonio) called on the Biden administration to federalize the Texas National Guard this week, calling Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security mission, Operation Lone Star, a “rogue operation.”

“Greg Abbott and the Republicans in Texas have become bloodthirsty,” said Castro on a Tuesday press call with other Texas Democrats.

The Texas Military Department, which oversees the Texas National Guard, is currently blocking Customs and Border Protection (CBP) from accessing 2.5 miles of the U.S.-Mexico Border at Shelby Park in Eagle Pass. Last week, CBP was denied access by the Texas National Guard when attempting to respond to an alert of distressed migrants in the water from Mexican authorities. A woman and her two children drowned in the incident.

”I believe that given the events of the past few days in particular, that President Biden needs to consider federalizing The Texas National Guard,” said Castro. “Operation Lone Star has also militarized border communities, whether its Eagle Pass or the Rio Grande Valley, unlike people have ever seen in the history of those regions.”

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Castro said federalizing the National Guard could also become necessary as Republicans obstruct negotiations with Democrats on immigration policy changes.

“Republicans have blocked any kind of real solutions in favor of contributing to a kind of chaos,” said Castro. “For example, Congressman [Troy] Nehls of Texas, made the comment that he was not willing or in the mood to help a Democratic president do anything about the border.”

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz introduced the version of the border policy bill that has led to months-long negotiations between Senate Republicans and the Biden Administration over new limits on asylum and migrant parole. Senate Republicans have continuously rejected possible deals and upped their demands after receiving concessions.

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, also from Texas, was on Tuesday’s call. She called the situation at the border “incredibly dangerous” and said Abbott’s language was just as alarming as the actions of the Texas Military Department.

“What Greg Abbott is doing is, he’s turning a country that has been a beacon of hope for generations into a place that is demonstrating hatefulness,” said Escobar. “Abbott essentially lamented the fact that he would be prosecuted if his personnel were to shoot migrants. It is incomprehensible that anyone would imply such violence against vulnerable people, especially considering what happened in El Paso in 2019.”

Texas National Guard troops watch a Mexican official prevent a group of people from entering the Rio Grande River across from Shelby Park at the U.S.-Mexico border in Eagle Pass, Texas, U.S., January 12, 2024.

REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal/File Photo

Texas National Guard troops watch a Mexican official prevent a group of people from entering the Rio Grande River across from Shelby Park at the U.S.-Mexico border in Eagle Pass, Texas, U.S., January 12, 2024.

In an interview earlier this month with Dana Loesch, a former spokeswoman with the National Rifle Association, Abbott was asked where he saw the limits of migration deterrence tactics at the border.

Abbott responded that he was deploying “every tool and strategy” available short of shooting people crossing the border “because, of course, the Biden administration would charge us with murder.”

The federal government holds the constitutional right to take direct control of state National Guard and has done so on numerous occasions, including to assist with logistics during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A historically notable example occurred during desegregation when President Dwight D. Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard in 1957 to ensure the safe entry of black students, known as the “Little Rock Nine,” into Little Rock Central High School.

“Migrants can’t just be used as political scarecrows to convince Americans that these brown-skinned people are coming to harm everybody,” said Castro. “We have to take on solutions, and I urge Governor Abbott and Republicans in Congress to work with us to do that.”

In a cease-and-desist letter, the Department of Homeland Security gave Texas until the end of day Wednesday to allow Border Patrol to regain access to the park or face a third lawsuit over Abbott’s immigration policies.

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