In an interview with Tucker Carlson last Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott laid out his strategy behind Texas’ recent controversial policy regarding trucking inspections. He acknowledged that by “implement[ing] what we call ‘enhanced safety inspections’ of every commercial vehicle coming across the border” it had produced “a predictable result” of “stalled traffic for miles … crashing economic conditions” in these bordering Mexican states.
Abbott maintained the governors of these states were “begging for relief and as they beg for relief” would be demanded to “implement security measures that will reduce illegal immigration coming across our border.” In addition, the governor threatened that if these states failed to do so, Texas would “continue with our right to inspect every single vehicle coming across that bridge into the state of Texas.”
Consequently, the states of Nuevo Leon, Chihuahua, and Coahuila entered into agreements with Abbott concerning this conjunction of immigration and trade policy.
These actions by Abbott are matters of international trade policy and are thereby blatantly prohibited under the U.S. Constitution: “The Congress shall have Power To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States” and “No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation.”
Nonetheless, in a Friday morning interview with Fox News, Attorney General Ken Paxton lavished praise on the governor for his unconstitutional behavior.
“The governor has figured out we can stop trade along the border,” Paxton beamed. “He is doing what the [Biden] administration won’t do which is protecting the citizens of Texas, protecting the citizens of this country from drugs and human trafficking.”
Of course, it is not only Mexican states and businesses that are affected by Abbott’s unconstitutional new policy. These trucking inspections directly hurt Texas businesses and cause more inflation, which can later be blamed on President Biden before the upcoming midterms in an effort to flip the House and Senate back to Republicans.
Even prominent Texas Republicans are speaking out against the dangerous policy. This Tuesday, the arch-conservative Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump for the reelection campaign this year, released a scathing letter addressed to Abbott concerning the new procedure.
“This misguided policy will have little or no impact on the invasion on our southern border,” Miller wrote. “Instead, this policy will hurt Texas and American consumers by driving up already skyrocketing food prices, worsening ongoing supply chain disruptions, causing massive produce shortages, and saddling Texas and American companies with untold losses.”
Miller continued: “Your inspection protocol is not stopping illegal immigration. It is stopping food from getting to grocery store shelves and, in many cases, causing food to rot in trucks — many of which are owned by Texas and other American companies. It is simply political theater. The people of Texas deserve better!”
Due in part to this widespread backlash from political allies, Abbott ceased the implemented burdensome trucking inspection order on Friday afternoon. Nevertheless, the damage had already been done, not only to Texan businesses and bank accounts but to the foundations of our constitutional system.
NYT columnist Jamelle Bouie summed up the gravity of the situation best in a recent Tweet, noting that it was this exact sort of state of affairs that James Madison, defender of states’ rights and “Father of the Constitution,” worried about when complaining of possible “encroachments by the states of the federal authority” in the run-up to the Constitutional Convention.
Abbott, Paxton, and other Texas Republicans may believe themselves defenders of America and its Constitution, when in reality they are playing out some of its authors’ greatest fears.
Original photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons