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Border dispute reignites calls for Texas secession

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

As conditions at the Texas border continue to deteriorate, conversation has sparked of a civil war in 2024.

Last month, after the U.S. Supreme Court issued an injunction allowing the U.S. Border Patrol to cut the razor wire Texas installed along the border of Mexico. Texas has been in a standoff with the federal government regarding immigration policy decisions.

The standoff has sparked talks of Texas’s secession from the U.S. and the possibility of another civil war in 2024, which are both unlikely scenarios, according to associate law professor Daniel Morales.

“There’s not going to be a civil war,” he said. “That’s not in the immediate future. That’s not gonna happen. It is a very serious standoff, but it is designed to drive media attention to topics that Governor Gregg Abbott wants media attention directed to.”

The upcoming 2024 presidential election is also fueling the fire to debate of state rights. In a good economy, with a weak president Biden and an unpopular candidate in Trump, there is a push to make immigration their voting issue, Morales said.

“All politics today is national,” he said. “It is the richest red state and it is full of ambitious politicians who want to do work for the National Party and the national governing priorities.”

The standoff comes at a time of increased violence. According to a poll conducted by Public Religion Research Institute, one in four Americans believe that violence may be the only solution to modern political issues. This is a 15% increase since 2021, when the poll was first conducted after Jan.6.

According to Pew Research Center, 58% of the country sees the United States declining in the next 25 years. They expect the U.S. economy to be weaker, political divisions to be wider and a large gap between rich and poor people in the country.

In response to the ruling, Abbot said that “The federal government has broken the compact between the United States and the States.” The language some have argued mimicked Texas’s 1861 declaration of secession over slavery. While the secession was mainly over slavery, the declaration also states that Texas felt betrayed by the federal government.

“The Federal Government, while but partially under the control of these our unnatural and sectional enemies, has for years almost entirely failed to protect the lives and property of the people of Texas against the Indian savages on our border, and more recently against the murderous forays of banditti from the neighboring territory of Mexico,” said Texas’s 1861 declaration of secession said.

While it is impossible to know what consequences look like for the state if it does try to secede, which is highly unlikely, the federal government’s response to it could be similar to the way it has dealt with Russia and its invasion of Ukraine, Morales said.

“I would imagine a very similar set of economic sanctions would apply to any state that tried to leave the Union, because there’s no reason to give them any benefit,” he said.

While the Texas Nationalist Movement submitted what they claim were 140,000 voter signatures the state Republican Party rejected the groups measure to put the question of Texas’s secession on the 2024 election ballot, according to KERA news. 

While the measure failed to make it on the ballot this year, the Texas Nationalist Movement president Daniel Miller is hopeful that the Texas Independence Referendum Act filled during the 2025 legislative session. A similar measure failed to make it out of the committee during the 2023 legislative session, according to KERA news. 

Why is this happening?

The court’s 5-4 decision came without an opinion and said that Texas should allow border patrol officers to conduct operations freely at the southern border. Instead of backing down, Gov. Greg Abbott has doubled down and increased border patrol at the border.

On Friday, Abbott announced that Texas will build a base housing for up to 1,800 troops in Eagle Pass. The base plans to house 300 troops by April at least. This is another part of the Lone Star Project. This will be six miles from Shelby Park, the 23-acre land that is currently the battleground between Texas and the Federal government, a place that has seen thousands of unauthorized border crossings from Mexico.

After the decision from the high court last month, about 25 Republican governors backed Abbott’s stance in solidarity and said that the state has a constitutional right to protect itself. Abbott believes that these states would send troops if necessary.

Abbott’s defiance has also been backed by state and federal officials, such as former President Donald Trump, House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson and almost all of Texas’s congressional delegation.

On Jan. 25 Trump wrote on social media that Texas, “must be given full support to repel the invasion.”

Far-right groups have called for a civil war in Texas, according to a report by NBC News. Last week, a trucker convoy called “Army of God” stopped at the Texas Border to “peacefully gather and protest” before continuing their road trip to Arizona and California.

There have also been over 60 public office candidates and over two dozen public officials, who have signed the Take Texas Back pledge, that asks officials to, “commitment to a contract with Texans, promising to vote and act solely in the best interests of Texans.”

Historically, there has always been a political divide in the U.S. However, even though it is easy to draw comparisons between different difficult times in the country’s history, it is important to remember that there is a continuity between the kinds of forces we’re seeing today and the kinds of forces that historically have always been present in American Society, Morales said.

“History rhymes. It doesn’t repeat. There’s a deep continuity between the kinds of forces we’re seeing today and the kinds of forces that historically have always been present in American Society,” Morales said.

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