Monday, January 01, 2024

Human Cargo

On the afternoon of December 31, Mayor Brandon Johnson of Chicago issued two tweets which read

This morning just after 1 a.m., a private Boeing 777 originating from San Antonio, Texas landed at the Rockford/Chicago airport carrying 350 asylum seekers. There was no communication from Texas, and the City of Chicago was alerted by authorities in Rockford regarding the flight.

Upon landing, asylum seekers were placed on buses chartered by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and dropped in various surrounding suburbs, left to find their way to the city. This is the second recorded instance of the Texas governor transporting asylum seekers via private plan.

Governor Abbott does have an explanation, however. As seen (beginning at 2:21) in the video below, he contends

The authors of the United States Constitution foresaw a situation when the federal government would be inattentive to states that faced challenges at their borders. In response, they inserted Article 1,Section 10 to the United States Constitution to empower states to take action to defend themselves and that is exactly what Texas is doing.

Article I pertains to the legislative branch of the federal government and Article 10 is clearly designed to limit the power of states. Abbott is referring to the third clause, which reads

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Assuming the Governor is sincere (a real stretch, admittedly), he is interpreting this clause as "No state shall, without the consent of Congress..... engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.

Texas is not in imminent danger of destruction. Nor has it been "actually invaded."  And if it faces imminent- which it does not- danger from immigrants, refugees, or asylum seekers, it would have police or National Guard soldiers fire upon the ruthless invaders. Instead, the governor's people have given them one-way passage to northern cities. The invaders.

According to the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation

Present-day non-state actors, like cartel-affiliated gangs operating within the territory of a U.S. state, may fall under the category of invaders, provided their criminal activity reaches a scale or degree of organization that deliberately overthrows or curtails the lawful sovereignty of the state.

Abbott did not take action against cartel--affiliated gangs but against individual asylum seekers.  And if the criminal activity of the gangs reached a scale threatening the lawful sovereignty of the state, he hasn't explained how. His is a policy searching for a rationalization.  

This is not to suggest that the come one, come all attitude of Chicago mayor Johnson is good policy or politics, because it is neither.  However, shipping human beings like chattel from one state to another, especially without notification, stokes resentment and fans the flames of division..  The inhumane approach of one politician and the tone-deaf approach of another cry out for much more effective action from the federal government toward immigrants and asylum seekers. That's one thing Brandon Johnson and Greg Abbot can agree on.

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