Migrant crisis escalating in the Mexico-US border


In a statement issued on January 24, backed by other Republican governors, the Texas Governor says, in the very first line, that the “federal government has broken the compact between the United States and the states”. This wording is very similar to that of the famous first line of the Texas ordinance that was part of the 1861 Secession Acts passed by the Thirteen Confederate states the same year the American Civil War started. The 1861 Texas ordinance first line reads thus: “The Federal Government has failed to accomplish the purposes of the compact of union between these States, in giving protection either to the persons of our people upon an exposed frontier, or to the property of our citizens.” The notion that the Texas Governor could be invoking the same “compact” legal theory that justified secession 163 years ago has sparked concern, What is going on?

There has been an ongoing migrant crisis escalating in the Mexico-US border for a while now. There is a related drug and cartel crisis so bad top US politicians have gone so far as to talk about sending Special Forces into Mexico to fight said drug cartels. With regards to the border problem, taking matters into his own hands, amid a jurisdiction dispute, Greg Abbott, Governor of the American state of Texas, has seized part of that border, while blocking federal US Border Patrol agents from an Eagle Pass area that is now fenced off with razor wire. Abbott claims “Texas’s constitutional authority to defend and protect itself” in fact “is the supreme law of the land and supersedes any federal statutes to the contrary.”

The situation has been going on since January 10, with relatively little repercussion in the main media outlets, which is quite strange. This after all is not just a border crisis, but rather a major political crisis that threatens stability and the institutions in what can only be described as a declining superpower.

This development, albeit dramatic, is far from being something totally unpredictable – and it certainly is not a good sign, considering the upcoming presidential elections, the number of proxy conflicts Washington has been involved internationally, and also considering the fact that since 2016 the US elections legitimacy has been increasingly disputed.

Back in 1998, Russian political scientist Igor Panarin theorized the US could “disintegrate” as an unified nation-state by 2010 (breaking into six republics); a “balkanization” scenario he still claimed to be likely in 2008. Such a scenario has not materialized thus far, but the United States is certainly less united as a nation by now – and one should expect it to get worse.

In 2017, national security expert Kelth Mines told The New Yorker magazine that there was a “sixty-per-cent chance of civil war” in the US “over the next ten to fifteen years”, due to “entrenched national polarization”, and “weakened institutions”, among other issues.

In August 2020, writing on our age of “disputed presidencies”, I commented on how former US President Donald Trump’s 2016 election had been “hotly contested” (with “wild accusations” of “Russian interference”). In 2020, I also wrote, many observers already foresaw that the then coming (2020) election risked not being “swiftly accepted”, in the context of the coronavirus outbreak and Antifa demonstrations spreading across the country.

The incumbent president’s own inauguration, in January 2020, was in fact not free from concerns about a coup or a major political crisis. Quite the opposite: the Pentagon in fact authorized no less than 25,000 National Guard members to support Joe Biden’s inauguration, while Washington DC remained on high alert. The January 6 pro-Trump riot at the Capitol the same year was largely seen as a coup attempt, having posed real mortal danger to top members of the US government. At least five people died and many were injured, including over 170 police officers. The protesters’ were over 2,000 people, including Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and Three-Percenter militia members, who invaded the Capitol. Their goal was to prevent a US Congress joint session from counting the Electoral College votes, as is the protocol, to certify and formalize the victory of President-elect Joe Biden. Thus, the rioters, acting under the belief that the 2020 election had been stolen by Joe Biden’s Democrat Party (a belief shared by Trump himself), hoped to ultimately overturn said election – to no avail.

It turns out that, according to a 2021 Time magazine’s long, well-detailed and little-noticed article, “in a way, Trump was right”, because, writes journalist Molly Ball, “there was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes” (to stop a Trump victory), involving “an informal alliance between left-wing activists and business titans”. This alliance was formalized in a “joint statement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO” (the latter being the nation’s largest union federation). These “shadow campaigners” work involved “every aspect of the election”: “they got states to change voting systems and laws and helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time.” According to the same piece, “nearly half the electorate cast ballots by mail in 2020, practically a revolution in how people vote.”

Well, considering such a peculiar context, it is no wonder, then, that by June 2023 a third of US Americans still had doubts about the 2020 election result. It is 2024, US presidential primaries are underway, and Trump, once again a candidate, is narrowly ahead of Biden. The problem is that as recently as April 2023, Trump was arrested and briefly detained, something which, I argued, mostly backfired, with his popularity growing – the timing of the indictment being hard to ignore. On December 19,  a Colorado Supreme Court ruling banned Trump from running for presidency, which prompted Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick to suggest “taking Biden off ballot in Texas” over the migration crisis.

Back to the Texas border standoff with Washington, Human Rights Watch warns the escalation of tensions “threaten deadly outcomes”. A trucker convoy from Virginia, with Christian nationalist (supposedly armed) protesters calling themselves an “Army of God” is headed to the border, to support the Texas authorities. No less than 25 Republican governors (that is, every Republican-led state) have signed a letter in support of the Texas rebellion – this amounts to half of the 50 states that comprise the US, by the way. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in turn has deployed additional troops to the Texas border, to support security operations there and “to help Texas fortify this border”, in clear defiance of the federal government. Moreover, separatist discourses are increasing, with the (still small) secessionist movement claiming “Texit” is getting closer.

To this day, American presidents call themselves the “leaders of the free world”, while Washington is commonly described as a “global policeman.” This description might not do much justice to the true state of affairs.

This overextended superpower would do well in exercising restraint, while focusing on solving its own domestic conflicts, which threaten its very unity.