Texas wants to challenge immigrant children’s right to an education, Border Patrol shadow police disbanded
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Right to an education
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced last week that he plans to challenge a 1982 Supreme Court ruling that provided undocumented immigrant children in the United States the right to an education.
The case, Plyler v. Doe, centered on a 1975 Texas law that “prohibited the use of state funds for the education of children who had not been legally admitted to the U.S.” and authorized local school districts to deny enrollment to such children. A 5–4 majority of the Supreme Court found the policy to violate the Equal Protection Clause, which provides that no State shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Whatever his status under the immigration laws, an alien is a “person” in any ordinary sense of that term…In addition to the pivotal role of education in sustaining our political and cultural heritage, denial of education to some isolated group of children poses an affront to one of the goals of the Equal Protection Clause: the abolition of governmental barriers presenting unreasonable obstacles to advancement on the basis of individual merit.
…the Texas statute imposes a lifetime hardship on a discrete class of children not accountable for their disabling status. These children can neither affect their parents’ conduct nor their own undocumented status. The deprivation of public education is not like the deprivation of some other governmental benefit. Public education has a pivotal role in maintaining the fabric of our society and in sustaining our political and cultural heritage; the deprivation of education takes an inestimable toll on the social, economic, intellectual, and psychological wellbeing of the individual, and poses an obstacle to individual achievement.
Chief Justice Burger, joined by Justices White, Rehnquist, and O’Connor, dissented, writing that it was up to Congress to legislate a solution. At a later conference, Rehnquist made derogatory remarks to the immigrant children seeking an education, calling them “wetbacks.”
[Thurgood] Marshall exploded at Rehnquist, who lamely attempted to defend himself by saying in his part of the country the term wetbacks still had “currency,” as Brennan recalled it. Marshall fumed that by the same reasoning, he’d long been called a nigger.
“I think that we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler v. Doe was issued many years ago,” Abbott told conservative radio host Joe Pagliarulo on Thursday. The governor, like many Republican officials across the country, is emboldened by the leaked Supreme Court draft overturning Roe v. Wade. The conservative majority, they hope, are also signaling an openness to revisiting past precedents.
Texas loses railway
Mexican officials are moving a major trade railway worth billions of dollars away from Texas in response to Gov. Abbott’s recently rescinded secondary commercial truck inspections at the border.
Mexican Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier said the railway, known as the T-MEC Corridor, will bypass Texas and go through New Mexico instead. “We’re now not going to use Texas,” Clouthier said. “We can’t leave all the eggs in one basket and be hostages to someone who wants to use trade as a political tool.”
The planned railway would connect the Mexican port of Mazatlán to the Canadian city of Winnipeg at a cost of $3.3 billion.
Gov. Abbott, meanwhile, is looking to declare a migrant “invasion” in order to boost his re-election chances—at the risk of exacerbating his state’s relationship with Mexico. By declaring an “invasion” along the border, state police could arrest and deport migrants without the assistance or approval of federal authorities.
Under the plan, Texas would invoke Article IV, Section 4, and Article I, Section 10, of the U.S. Constitution to exercise extraordinary wartime powers and use state law enforcement— Department of Public Safety officers and state National Guard troops — to immediately turn back migrants at the border.
Trump officials have led the push to invoke wartime powers to expel immigrants. While Abbott told the media he is considering the proposal, once enacted the plan is unlikely to be upheld by the courts.
“The power to decide what is an invasion and the power to defend the United States against an invasion rests solely with the federal government,” Ric Simmons, an expert on Constitutional law at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, wrote to VICE News in an email.
A top Border Patrol agent appeared on Fox News last month (pdf) and endorsed the “Great Replacement Theory,” warning that immigrants are going to replace the political power and culture of white people living in America.
Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer: “Sir, why do you think this administration has allowed virtually an open border?”
Brandon Judd: “I believe that they’re trying to change the demographics of the electorate, that’s what I believe they’re doing.”
The replacement theory is common in white nationalist and rightwing extremist circles. Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the Christchurch mass shooter who killed 51 Muslim worshippers, invoked the idea in a manifesto before embarking on his killing spree. The Walmart El Paso shooter who killed 20 and wounded 26 others in 2019 wrote that the attack was the result of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
Judd is also the president of the Border Patrol agent union and commonly appears in offensive and violent campaign ads (like for Jim Lamon, where the Arizona Senate candidate shoots an actor depicting U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly). He is a federal employee, paid by taxpayers, spreading extremist propaganda.
Shadow Border Patrol units
The Biden Administration is disbanding the Border Patrol’s secretive and controversial “critical incident teams,” special units in charge of internal oversight that have been accused of covering up official wrongdoing.
The units first came to national attention for helping obscure the killing of Anastasio Hernández-Rojas by roughly a dozen border agents. On May 28, 2010, at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, border agents beat, tased, and suffocated Anastasio until he stopped breathing. Autopsy reports confirmed extensive injuries, including five broken ribs, hemorrhaging of internal organs, and brain damage.
None of the agents or officers involved were fired or disciplined for excessive use of force. Attorneys investigating the murder of Anastasio were among the first to learn of the critical incident unit in San Deigo, which allegedly worked to impede local police investigation.
CBP was allowed control of the crime scene during an early and crucial stage of the investigation. CBP agents acted quickly to scatter eyewitnesses from the scene and destroyed images, video, and audio taken by witnesses of agents beating Anastasio.
It took over a decade, but Congress finally took notice of the rogue units. In January, the House Oversight and Homeland Security Committees opened an investigation into the critical incident teams:
“The Committees are concerned by reports indicating that Critical Incident Teams may have obstructed appropriate investigations by law enforcement,” wrote the Chairs. “Our Committees are seeking to more fully understand the role of Critical Incident Teams following potential misconduct by Border Patrol agents, whether these teams have obstructed criminal, civil, or administrative investigations or prevented accountability for agents’ misconduct, and the steps CBP is taking to ensure these teams are being used appropriately.”