The Dallas Morning News (DMN) editorial board reacted to Governor Greg Abbott’s hand-delivered letter to Joe Biden when he landed in Texas last weekend. The editorial board objected to Abbott’s use of the words ‘enemy combatants’ as he referred to illegal immigrants crossing into Texas. Jake Tapper, host of CNN’s The Lead, asked Governor Abbott about the board’s op-ed during an interview on Thursday.

The DMN editorial board’s point is that Abbott’s letter likely did nothing but harm to the possibility of a cooperative working relationship with the Biden administration. The board describes Abbott’s letter to Biden as “hostile” while agreeing with him that Biden’s visit to the border (such as it was) is long overdue. But…

Abbott’s letter included fair criticisms of the Biden administration, but the tone and delivery make its contents unhelpful. The letter, which Abbott handed to Biden in front of news cameras, felt more like the president was being served a warrant than being greeted in good faith by the governor of our state.

“All of this is happening because you have violated your constitutional obligation to defend the States against invasion through faithful execution of federal laws,” Abbott wrote.

That is a strong accusation. But worse, it repeats ugly rhetoric characterizing the border crisis in military terms that risk portraying all migrants as enemy combatants.

Americans can handle nuance. We understand that what’s happening at the border is a political and humanitarian emergency that should not continue unabated, even as we recognize that most arrivals are desperate adults and children, and they deserve to be treated humanely even if their asylum claims ultimately are not aligned with U.S. law.

We know that our governor, too, is capable of nuance. Yet he continues to eschew that in favor of political posturing that rallies his Republican base but that does little to advance solutions.

Apparently, for the DMN editorial board, it all boils down to tone. It accuses Abbott of antagonizing the president. The board also falls in line with Abbott’s critics as it describes the governor’s actions as political moves. The solution is to play nice with Biden and maybe something can be worked out. That’s some pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking, if you ask me, given how Texas has been expected to go it alone against the constant flood of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border. Texas taxpayers are paying a big price, and Joe Biden doesn’t seem to be concerned about that injustice. Immigration is a federal responsibility.

The DMN editorial board wished that Abbott had met with Biden with the attitude expressed by El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, a Democrat. He told the DMN board, “I’m not going to be nice, and I’m not going to be rude, either.” My take is that Abbott acted in the same way. He went and welcomed Biden on the tarmac when he landed in Texas. He presented him with a letter. After a very brief time, the meet-up concluded and Abbott left, uninvited to continue on with Biden’s visit to Texas. President Unity excluded the governor and all other Republicans from his visit. Does that decision scream cooperation to you? Abbott responds to how he is treated.

So, when Jake Tapper gave Abbott the opportunity to explain his use of the term enemy combatants, he explained he was using verbiage from the Constitution. From a CNN transcript:

TAPPER: You also said the border crisis is happening because Biden hasn’t defended the United States against — quote — “invasion.”

“The Dallas Morning News” editorial board, which, we should note, endorsed you for governor in 2018 and endorsed you last fall as well, “The Dallas Morning News” editorial board said that accusation — quote — “repeats ugly rhetoric characterizing the border crisis in military terms that risk portraying all migrants as enemy combatants” — unquote.

I wanted to give you an opportunity to respond to that criticism.


Actually, what it does is to repeat verbiage word by word of what’s contained in the United States Constitution. Under Article 1, Section 10, it authorizes the governor of a state to declare an invasion for purposes of us as a state to be able to respond to what’s going on our border.

It is clear from the fact that I have now provided eight letters to the president of the United States asking for assistance for the state of Texas. And to each of those eight letters, he has refused to provide any assistance whatsoever.

I have talked to Secretary Mayorkas about providing assistance to the state of Texas, all on deaf ears. Texas has been left alone as some frontier outpost for us to have to grapple with ourselves the record-breaking volume of millions of people coming across the border a year.

Jake, if this is not an invasion, what is? think about the volume of people coming across the border, and look at what was happening on the ground in El Paso alone before the president showed up. It was all cleaned up, of course, right before he arrived.

But they had completely overtaken all the streets of downtown — not all — many of the streets of downtown El Paso in ways where control had been ceded to those who had come from another country.

It’s understandable that Americans flinch a little when military-like terms are used in conversations about illegal immigration. But, as Abbott says, if we can’t call what is happening at the border now an invasion, when can we? Abbott uses the Constitution as a guide to his words to Biden. He pointed out to Biden that all five points he included in his letter are already laws on the books. Everything he asked Biden to do at the border is already law. Abbott isn’t asking for anything that requires a new law to be passed.

Abbott: Two quick points. And one is, what I was doing was invoking a constitutional clause. The other is, we were talking about those who were perpetuating the invasion, and that’s the drug cartels. The drug cartels are invading the United States of America.

And if Americans don’t know that, they need to wake up. If nothing else, they need to wake up to the reality that just Texas law enforcement alone has seized enough fentanyl that it would be enough to kill every man, woman and child in the entire United States of America.

That could destroy us as a country. And it’s Texas, not the United States, that is stepping up and trying to do something about it.

It is a good interview. I’m glad Abbott had the chance to explain the words he is using now as the Biden administration continues to ignore Texas. The Biden border crisis is an unprecedented humanitarian crisis on our southern border. The fentanyl crisis is out of control. It has to stop.

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