The Lead

Pa. Senate’s GOP leaders express support for Texas Gov. Abbott’s border measures

By: and - January 26, 2024 5:27 pm

Immigrants wait overnight next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence to seek asylum in the United States on Jan. 7, 2023 as viewed from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Pennsylvania Senate Republican leaders on Friday voiced their support for the controversial methods Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is using to prevent people from entering his state along a portion of its border with Mexico. His methods conflict with federal efforts to enforce immigration laws.

Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-Indiana) and Appropriations Committee Chair Scott Martin (R-Lancaster)  said that they support Abbott’s “defense of American citizens and communities” in a statement.

“The deeply troubling crisis at our nation’s southern border presents an imminent threat against the United States and its citizens,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately, the Biden Administration continues to flout our nation’s laws and ignore its solemn legal and constitutional responsibility to protect American citizens against the catastrophic impacts of unchecked illegal immigration. For that reason, we stand in support of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s efforts to use every tool at his disposal to protect the border.”

The Texas National Guard and state troopers continued to roll out concertina wire and prevented U.S. Border Patrol agents from accessing most of Shelby Park, the Texas Tribune reported late Wednesday. The park is on the bank of the Rio Grande, where thousands of migrants have crossed and some have been caught in the wire.

A lower federal court ruled the state could prevent the federal agents from cutting down the wire, and the U.S. Supreme Court vacated that decision earlier this week without settling the question of whether Texas has the authority to restrict Border Patrol officers.

The clash between Abbott and the Biden administration comes as the Republican governor has placed more than 80,000 immigrants on flights and buses to Democrat-run cities since April 2022 without notice. Abbott has been a frequent critic of the president’s immigration policies. His campaign to send people to “sanctuary cities” demonstrates the lack of action the White House has been willing to take on what members of both major parties have labeled a border security crisis.

The Pennsylvania senators’ statement comes a day after 25 Republican governors voiced their support for Abbott and his southern border policies. All but one GOP governor — Vermont’s Phil Scott — signed the governors’ statement.

“President Biden and his Administration have left Americans and our country completely vulnerable to unprecedented illegal immigration pouring across the Southern border,” the governors’ statement reads. “Instead of upholding the rule of law and securing the border, the Biden Administration has attacked and sued Texas for stepping up to protect American citizens from historic levels of illegal immigrants, deadly drugs like fentanyl, and terrorists entering our country.”

In their statement, the Pennsylvania senators also encouraged Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat,  to “cross partisan lines and join the 25 other governors who have expressed support for Governor Abbott,” and for “our entire federal congressional delegation join together in demanding that the Biden Administration fulfill its constitutional responsibility to the states and to the protection of our citizens.”

Doing so would “send a strong message that Pennsylvania stands for states’ rights, the rule of law and the protection of American communities and interests,” they added.

Gov. Shapiro’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Friday.

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Kim Lyons
Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons is a veteran western Pennsylvania journalist who has covered people and trends in politics and business for local and national publications. Follow her on Threads @social_kimly

Greg LaRose
Greg LaRose

Greg LaRose has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana. Before coming to the Louisiana Illuminator, he was the chief investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. He previously led the government and politics team for The Times-Picayune |, and was editor in chief at New Orleans CityBusiness. Greg's other career stops include Tiger Rag, South Baton Rouge Journal, the Covington News Banner, Louisiana Radio Network and multiple radio stations.