The concept of national sovereignty is central to the contemporary international system. One of the generally accepted aspects of national sovereignty is the ability of a government to exercise control of its national territory within defined borders, and to control who crosses those borders, where, and when. The United States shares a nearly 2,000-mile border with the Republic of Mexico which defines the national boundary between two sovereign states. It also marks the southern boundaries of Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, and California, all of which are feeling the impacts of a continuing security and humanitarian crisis generated by illegal immigration.
On April 20, Arizona’s Governor Ducey issued a Declaration of Emergency and announced the deployment of up to 250 National Guardsmen to the state’s southern border. According to the Governor’s Office, the state will provide up to $25 million in initial funding for the operation. On June 10, Governor Ducey and Governor Abbott of Texas – who declared a state of disaster along the Texas southern border – requested that the other 48 state governors send available law enforcement resources to their states in response “to the ongoing surge of illegal border crossings, with the accompanying threats to private property and to the safety of our citizens”. Governor Abbott also announced he would dedicate $250 million in state funds for border wall construction. To date, at least three state governors – from Florida, South Dakota, and Nebraska – have announced plans to send National Guard or law enforcement personnel to either Arizona or Texas.
While critics may dismiss all of this as an act of political theater (all the governors involved are Republicans, after all), it actually represents state actions to address what should be a significant national security concern. When state governors make the decision to deploy their National Guards to help secure an international border or feel the need to take unilateral action to shore up border controls – and pay for the privilege of doing so – it represents far more than a passing local need. Governors Ducey and Abbott are responding to a failure of policy and strategy at the national level. In fact, they are responding to the failure of elected Federal officials to defend the nation’s sovereignty.
The current administration has at best paid lip service to resolving the crisis on the nation’s southwestern border. Vice President Harris, the administration’s immigration and border “czar,” found time to visit Guatemala and Mexico before being shamed into finally visiting the U.S. side of the border. Governor Ducey, Governor Abbott, and the other state governors offering them aid clearly recognize that national security begins on the nation’s borders. Where does the Biden Administration believe national security begins?
The author is a retired U.S. Army officer and a retired civilian employee of the U.S. Department of Defense. He holds an MS in Strategic Intelligence from the Joint Military Intelligence College (now National Intelligence University), and an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. His published work has appeared in The Journal of Strategic Studies, Israel Affairs, Parameters, The International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, and the International Bulletin of Political Psychology.
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